NASA is on a mission to inspire young minds to become the next generation of critical thinkers. By engaging students in space exploration at the agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, NASA encourages learning in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in a way that fosters hands-on learning and discovery.
“As more states incorporate STEM-focused education into their standards, we assist teachers by developing curriculum support materials that help them meet the standards while making learning fun for their students,” said Susan Currie, education specialist at Marshall.
One example of how Marshall achieves this goal is through collaboration with the Oak Ridge City School System in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Marshall staff assisted in curriculum development that incorporated unique NASA resources, and then trained teachers to use the resources for a new elective engineering course called NASA Project-Based Learning. Marshall engineers also serve as mentors to students in the course. Patrick Hull, technical assistant for the Structural and Mechanical Design Branch of the Engineering Directorate at Marshall, assisted with this collaboration in the community where he grew up.
“We sought to invest in our community and influence middle school students by exposing them to exciting STEM careers at NASA” said Hull. At many schools, this type of unique experience in STEM fields was only available in an extracurricular environment.
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