The Aerospace Education Services Project (AESP), housed in Penn State’s College of Education, has been commissioned by NASA to help implement a nationwide initiative that aims to improve student proficiency in the earth sciences.
NASA's Summer of Innovation incentive program is an intensive and interactive middle school education experience that accelerates student learning and improves student skills and knowledge in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). It is modeled after the U.S. Department of Education's Race to the Top initiative, which provides funding to qualifying states in efforts to improve K-12 teaching and learning of the STEM disciplines.
NASA began the project by soliciting each state to submit a call for proposals. So far, based on their proposals, four states -- Massachusetts, Idaho, New Mexico and Wyoming -- have been selected to receive NASA education funding. AESP's role in the project is to send one to three education specialists from its regional offices to support a variety of kickoff activities at designated NASA centers in each of the qualifying states. The AESP specialists will conduct professional development for teachers, including workshops as well as camps and other informal events.
Summer of Innovation is intended to spur student interest and confidence in the earth sciences -- astronomy, geology, oceanography and meteorology. Using content from NASA's missions and research, the program engages thousands of middle-school students in STEM learning during the summer months, when many students experience "summer slide," or a loss of skills acquired during the school year.
The Summer of Innovation project infuses NASA content and educational materials into the summer 2010 learning experience. These materials include textbooks, lesson plans, videos, and games for students.
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden officially kicked off the Summer of Innovation initiative June 10 at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. Bolden was recognized recently as a Champion of Summer Learning by the National Summer Learning Association for his dedication to keeping America's middle-school students engaged in STEM.