NASA has delivered around $3m in grants to three informal STEM education organisations as part of its mission to inspire the ‘Mars’ generation of space exploration.
Girlstart, in Texas, the NASA Wallops Visitor Centre, Virginia, and the Wings of Eagles Discovery Centre in New York, were chosen from 73 applications from across the US. Some of the projects to benefit from the grant money include a new Mars exploration exhibit, educator development on space science topics and engineering technology, and pilot Mars-themed lesson plans in regional school districts.
“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 selected projects range in value from approximately $600,000 to $1.25 million, with proposals implemented by the various organisations over the next one to five years, depending on the project. Collectively, the programme aims to enhance critical-thinking skills, engineering and science literacy, and prepare the next generation for careers in STEM fields, including space exploration. NASA’s Journey to Mars roadmap has a strong educational focus, supported by a recognition that the first men and women to set foot on Mars are probably currently in school.