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NASA Awards $400k to Harris County, TX Education

Published on November 12, 2010 by   ·   No Comments
TEXAS HIGH SCHOOL SCIENCE COURSES BROADENED WITH INTRODUCTION OF NEW ONLINE SPACE COURSE WITH $400,000 GRANT FROM NASA
HOUSTON, TX – Harris County Department of Education is creating an online high school science course involving engineering design and problem-solving as result of an approximate $400,000 grant from NASA. The online course available free to students statewide is being developed and launched over the next two years. The pioneering program is called “Earth to Space Online.”

“The course is designed to attract and retain students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines,” HCDE chief information officer Jim Schul said. “The online course incorporates NASA resources extensively to provide students with in-depth and relevant materials that inspire a lifelong love of science and engineering.”

Students receive a high school science credit upon completion of the course. As the Texas Education Agency approves Earth to Space, it will be available through the TEA’s online Epsilen platform, making connections with teachers and students across the state, said Lisa Felske, science specialist for HCDE.

The Texas legislature now requires students to have four credits in science for graduation. The new course will broaden the science-credit spectrum while offering high school students in the state of Texas a glimpse at science career opportunities. NASA themes are introduced throughout the curriculum.

Over 100 lessons will introduce concepts and practices that underlie engineering and technology jobs and explore requirements for engineering careers. NASA resources presented through the course include the Hubble Space Telescope, Space Place, Beginners Guide to Aeronautics and Engineering, Research Tools to Design an Airplane, Aqua Mission and Destination Tomorrow.

Teachers will gain extensive training through online sessions and quarterly trainings at HCDE.

HCDE officials estimate about 4,000 students will enroll in Earth to Space during a two-year span and about 200 teachers will receive training. Goals include increasing numbers of female and minority students taking engineering-related courses in high school by 25 percent and increasing numbers of female and minority students expressing interest in NASA-related courses by 20 percent.

“We are hopeful that this course will stimulate increased interest in science, engineering, math and NASA-related careers,” said Felske. “Furthermore, teachers are provided a platform to improve their skills in science and engineering instruction. “

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