Washington, DC - NASA is awarding approximately $3 million in grants to three informal education organizations to help inspire the next generation in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) studies and careers as the agency progresses on its Journey to Mars.
The selected organizations are:
- Girlstart, Inc., of Austin, Texas
- NASA Wallops Visitor Center in Wallops Island, Virginia
- Wings of Eagles Discovery Center in Horseheads, New York
The selected projects will create a new Mars exploration exhibit, offer educator professional development on space science topics and engineering technology, pilot Mars-themed lesson plans in regional school districts, expand regional afterschool and summer camp opportunities, and develop community programs related to space exploration.
“Museums and out-of-school time providers are in a unique position to provide STEM engagement through hands-on experiences," said Roosevelt Johnson, deputy associate administrator for NASA's Office of Education in Washington. “NASA supports experiences that engage with STEM topics in personally meaningful ways.”
The proposals were selected through a peer-review process for NASA’s Competitive Program for Science Museums, Planetariums and NASA Visitor Centers Plus Other Opportunities. In June, NASA announced the first nine proposals selected from the 73 applications received through this opportunity. The newly-selected projects range in value from approximately $600,000 to $1.25 million. Organizations will implement their proposals over the next one to five years, depending on their project.
Projects selected this year will extend the reach of these organizations across the United States through partnerships with other museums, K-12 and higher education institutions, hospitals and industry to create exhibits, educational programming and curriculum, and immersive multi-media and hands-on, inquiry-based activities. The goal of these efforts is to enhance critical-thinking skills, engineering and science literacy, and prepare the next generation for careers in STEM fields. Many projects will focus on providing opportunities to youth in populations that are historically underrepresented in STEM professions.
The selected organizations will collaborate with NASA's Museum Alliance, a nationwide network of informal education professionals at more than 700 science museums, planetariums, Challenger Centers, youth-serving organizations, camps, libraries, nature centers, aquariums, zoos and visitor centers at NASA facilities, observatories and parks. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, created and manages the Museum Alliance for the agency.