NASA to help school programs take off

Older pupils at Black Mountain Elementary School will receive additional support in math, science and technology next school year.

The school successfully applied for a federal grant to participate in the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Explorer Schools program, which runs for three years.

"The program is to benefit science, math, technology and career education by supplementing curriculum for grades five through eight," school principal Scott Rhoades said.

Lisa McClure, a seventh- and eighth-grade teacher, wrote the grant.

She said she participated in a NASA Education Workshop in 2001 and that only individuals with NASA connections could apply for grant funds.

McClure and Rhoades had to assemble a team from the school once the grant was approved.

That team will attend a weeklong NASA summer workshop at the Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

"We started with people who are interested in NASA and space," McClure said.

"But some had conflicts with conventions, so we got some alternates."

The three other team members, all volunteers, are second-grade teacher Teri Sietsema, third-grade teacher Danyl Pierson and fifth-grade teacher Patti Cummins.

The workshop will explain NASA content, resources and programs.

When the team returns to school it will write an action plan for fifth- through eighth-graders.

Purchase of new microscopes, computer software or other items related to science, math and technology will be considered for funding.

McClure said teachers and administrators from just five schools in Southern California and Arizona have been selected for the workshop.

The grant is worth up to $10,000 for 2003-2004, up to $5,000 the second year and up to $2,500 the third year.

A NASA press release states that students participate in authentic experiences with NASA science and technology, apply NASA science, math and technology knowledge to real-world issues and problems, and gain access to NASA resources and materials.

Parents also benefit from the program through increased involvement in their children's education, online learning adventures for families and students and special events and other opportunities, the release further stated.