UMASS MEDICAL SCHOOL AND REGIONAL SCIENCE RESOURCE CENTER RECEIVE NASA SUMMER OF INNOVATION GRANT

Governor Patrick announces that six locations in Massachusetts will receive $1.5 million in funding for summer enrichment programs in STEM education

NASA grant

 Pictured here at a May 10 press conference where it was announced that six locations in Massachusetts will receive $1.5 million in funding for summer enrichment programs in STEM education are, from left, Cathi Coridan, director of Girls Incorporated; Sandy Mayrand, RSRC director; Governor Deval Patrick; and NASA Administrator and former astronaut Charles Boden. Photo by Eugena Ossi, Office of the Governor.


BOSTON, Mass.—May 10—Governor Deval Patrick and NASA Administrator and former astronaut Charles Bolden announced that Massachusetts has received a $1.5 million grant as part of the NASA Summer of Innovation Pilot Program. The University of Massachusetts Medical School’s Regional Science Resource Center (RSRC), along with five other higher education partners, will share a three-year pilot program grant to support summer learning for students who are typically underrepresented or underperforming in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education. Massachusetts was one of only four states to receive grants.

Through the program, NASA will engage Massachusetts middle school teachers and students in stimulating math and science-based education programs. NASA’s goal is to increase the number of future scientists, mathematicians and engineers, with an emphasis on broadening the participation of low-income and minority students.

“Through this partnership with NASA, we are tapping into innovative resources right here in Massachusetts that will offer traditionally underrepresented students an opportunity to succeed in these exciting fields well into the 21st century,” Governor Patrick said.

The UMMS program, named “Goddard Girls” in recognition of Worcester native Robert Goddard, the father of modern rocketry, will provide two weeks of STEM-related activities for 40 middle school girls through the RSRC and Girls, Inc. with a field trip to the Planetarium at the EcoTarium. Program directors hope teachers will infuse the subsequent academic year with the NASA materials they use over the summer.

“I am delighted that UMass Medical School and the Regional Science Resource Center will be part of this pilot program,” said Sandy Mayrand, director of RSRC. “Ours is the only non-engineering/space institution to receive funding, and I think it’s important for students to see that there are so many different types of science to pursue, and each one can be exciting and rewarding.”

“Through the Summer of Innovation project, NASA will work with partners and educators across America to bring the excitement of space to thousands of middle school students, with an emphasis on broadening participation of underrepresented and underserved students,” NASA Administrator Bolden said. “I'm happy to announce that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts was one of the states chosen to help us launch this program, which is a key component of the ‘Innovate to Educate’ campaign announced by President Barack Obama last November.”

The Patrick-Murray Administration has made STEM education a priority for Massachusetts, recognizing that it is important to students and the state’s ability to provide a highly-skilled workforce to the innovative companies that are located and expanding in Massachusetts. Last October, Governor Patrick was joined by Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray and other elected officials and community leaders to sign an Executive Order establishing the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council. The Council serves as a central advisory body, bringing together public and private sector stakeholders involved with STEM planning and programming, with the goal of increasing student interest in, and preparation for, careers in STEM. For more information about the Governor's STEM Advisory Council, visit www.mass.gov/governor/stem.

The six programs funded in Massachusetts will focus on providing NASA’s robotics, Earth and space science, astrophysics and engineering missions. The other five programs receiving funding are:
  • STEM in Astronautics and Space Sciences (Worcester Polytechnic Institute) Middle school students will learn about aeronautics, astronautics and space sciences with STEM components that can serve as catalysts for student learning.
  • Zero-Robotics (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) Middle school students will learn how to program and operate satellites onboard the International Space Station, and engage in a competition simulating docking of orbiting spacecraft.
  • STEM Explorations Living in Space using LEGO Robotics (Tufts University) The “Living in Space” curriculum will introduce students to the challenges astronauts face while living on the International Space Station, and introduce fundamentals of the engineering design process.
  • Talented and Gifted Latino Program and Astronomy (UMass Boston) An intensive five-week summer program that prepares 300 students by providing academic classes in the morning, and recreational and cultural activities in the afternoon. Students will visit space science labs, a planetarium, observatories, university campuses and the control center for the Chandra X-ray Observatory.
  • You Go Girls (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) Serving school systems in Cambridge, Boston and Gloucester, programs focus on science and technology education, confidence building and engineering design and fabrication experience.

The Summer of Innovation pilot program was implemented through NASA’s National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program. In addition to funding programs in Massachusetts, NASA awarded three other cooperative agreements, totaling approximately $5.6 million. The Summer of Innovation program will use a multifaceted approach that will allow NASA to assess the viability, scalability and success of the pilot programs. After the pilot program concludes, NASA will conduct an analysis to determine the best practices to build capacity to implement a comprehensive project in the summer of 2011 and beyond. The Space Grant national network consists of 52 consortia in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. For more information about NASA’s education programs, visit www.nasa.gov/offices/education/about/index.html.

For more information about the Regional Science Resource Center, visit www.umassmed.edu/rsrc/index.aspx.