Space Foundation Discovery Institute Established
The Space Foundation is solidifying its position as one of the nation's premier space-focused education providers with the establishment of the new Space Foundation Discovery Institute on the campus of Jack Swigert Aerospace Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo. (See related article on Jack Swigert Aerospace Academy in this issue of Space Watch.)
The Space Foundation Discovery Institute will provide space- and aerospace-themed professional development, training and support for teachers and students from around the world and will serve as the base location for the Space Foundation's popular education programs. It will house classrooms, a NASA Educator Resource Center, and eventually include three major laboratories: a simulated space mission operations center to open in early 2010; a simulated Martian terrain laboratory to open in early 2011; and, as funding becomes available, a Science on a Sphere facility in early 2012.
The Space Foundation has already received commitments from a number of organizations for financial and volunteer services to help build the Institute and the onsite laboratories. Significant contributors include:
- Analytical Graphics, Inc.
- Ball Aerospace & Technologies, Inc.
- The Broadmoor
- CEAVCO Audio Visual
- El Pomar Foundation
- Freeman Company
- The Larson Group Architects
- United Launch Alliance/Lockheed Martin Corp.
The Space Foundation's nationally recognized standards-based education programs use space themes and principles to build proficiency in and enthusiasm for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) among teachers, students, parents and communities. The goal is to strengthen STEM skills so that today's students can go on to become scientists, engineers, mathematicians, teachers, and supporters of space exploration. The programs address the serious gaps in U.S. science and math education and proficiency. (For more information on the state of STEM education in the U.S., see related article in the August issue of Space Watch, or see The Space Report 2009: The Authoritative Guide to Global Space Activity.)
Space Foundation education professionals will relocate to the Space Foundation Discovery Institute over the coming months as construction and equipment installation is completed.
In addition to offering national programs, the Space Foundation Discovery Institute will provide targeted professional development,onsite teacher support, and student programs for Jack Swigert Aerospace Academy.
"Education is fundamental to the Space Foundation's mission to advance space-related endeavors to inspire, enable, and propel humanity," said Space Foundation Chief Executive Officer Elliot Pulham. "Creating the Space Foundation Discovery Institute underscores how strongly we believe that teaching and learning are the keys to the future."
The Space Foundation's education programs include:
- NEW HORIZONS, a program that infuses STEM education into a community through student enrichment programs, teacher workshops, field trips, town-hall meetings, and astronaut and space professional visits.
- Educator Professional Development Courses, week-long, intensive, graduate-level, in-residence courses that provide PreK-12 educators with space-related STEM education knowledge and content that is instantly transferable to the classroom. Participants can earn continuing education credits, graduate credits, or work toward a master's degree in multiple related disciplines.
- STARS (Science, Technology, and Academic Readiness for Space), a hands-on science enrichment program based on a school's specific academic needs. STARS includes Space Foundation-provided instruction each week, and follow-up classroom activities on topics such as rocketry principles, astronomy, earth systems science, and principles of flight.
- Educators National Science Standards and Lesson Bank, free downloadable PreK-12 national science standards-based lessons.
- Teacher Liaisons, advocates for space science education who: receive Space Foundation training and resources to further integrate space into their classrooms; and participate in workshops and education programs at the Space Foundation's annual National Space Symposium in Colorado Springs. The program is in its sixth year and has 275 active participants. Honorees are selected by a panel comprising experienced Teacher Liaisons and representatives from the space industry and the military. (See articles about successful Teacher Liaisons in this issue of Space Watch.)
- Space Career Fair, an annual event in conjunction with the National Space Symposium that provides university students and transitioning military personnel opportunities to network with the largest employers in the space industry, to submit resumes, and, potentially, to interview for jobs. Space Career Fair is the leading source of information regarding current and future career opportunities, industry trends, upcoming space-related workforce needs, and it attracts more than 300 attendees from across the country.
- Jack Swigert Aerospace Academy, an aerospace-focused public middle school created in conjunction with Colorado Springs School District 11 that drives STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics) proficiency through a space-related curriculum, enhanced onsite laboratories and learning opportunities, and involvement with Space Foundation programs.
- Participation in advanced degrees for teachers and space professionals. Space Foundation Educator Professional Development Courses form a significant amount of the curriculum for four master's degrees offered to elementary, middle, and high school teachers through the College of Education at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs and one master's degree through Regis University. The Space Foundation also hosts one of the modules for the International Space University's space-related Executive MBA.