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Shepard Award Winner Inspires Students

Already an inspiration to students, Ricardo V. Soria touched the 25th National Space Symposium Opening Ceremony audience with his moving acceptance of the Alan Shepard Technology in Education Award, in which he thanked the Space Foundation and encouraged other organizations to provide resources teachers need to continue to motivate and educate students.

Assistant principal of Choctawahatchee High School in Fort Walton Beach, Fla., Soria won the 2009 award, which the Space Foundation gives in conjunction with the Astronauts Memorial Foundation and NASA, for his Engineers For America (EFA) program. The elementary school initiative promotes science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education through hands-on flight, aviation, and aerospace activities. It includes a two-day “Teach the Teacher” workshop and one-day “Reach the Student” events at the U.S. Air Force Armament Museum at Elgin Air Force Base where the kids solve aircraft-related problems using techniques based on NASA protocols combined with fun hands-on projects such as creating parachutes, testing balsa-wood airplanes against fan-induced “headwinds,” and using home-made galvanometers to measure magnetic fields.

Soria, who received a trophy, $500, and a trip to the 25th National Space Symposium, will have his name placed alongside past recipients on a plaque at the Center for Space Education at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

More information about the award is available at www.astronautsmemorialfoundation.org.

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