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Senator Spilka Joins Governor Patrick in Announcing Massachusetts Will Receive $1.5M NASA Summer of Innovation Grant

May 10, 2010
Sen. Spilka, Gov. Patrick, NASA Administrator Bolden, FSC President Flanagan

Sen. Spilka, Gov. Patrick, NASA Administrator Bolden, FSC President Flanagan

Senator Spilka today joined Governor Deval Patrick and NASA Administrator and former astronaut Charles Bolden to announce that Massachusetts has been selected to receive a $1,515,024 grant as part of the NASA Summer of Innovation pilot program. Beginning this summer, and continuing for a three-year pilot program, NASA will partner with six Massachusetts higher education institutions to use the agency’s mission and technology programs to boost summer learning, particularly for students who are underrepresented and underperforming in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Massachusetts was selected as one of only four states to receive grants. The Christa McAuliffe Challenger Learning Center at Framingham State is one of the institutions slated to receive funding.

“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,” said Governor Patrick.

“As our administration remains committed to promoting the importance of STEM education, this NASA grant will provide a unique learning experience for so many deserving Massachusetts students,” said Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray, who also chairs the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council. “We need to make all students aware of the benefits of studying science, technology, engineering and math as their skills will contribute significantly to Massachusetts’ future innovative workforce.”

“The Summer of Innovation program will allow Massachusetts to capitalize on its greatest strength – its higher education institutions – to propel us closer towards our goal of greater STEM awareness and more young people pursuing STEM careers. By focusing on middle school teachers, we will have a greater chance of igniting inspiration for science and technology at an earlier age. I am particularly pleased that Framingham State College, which has really led the state in thinking about how to train and then providing that training to STEM educators, will be included as part of this program,” said Senator Karen Spilka, Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies.

Through the Summer of Innovation 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 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, recognizing that it is important to our students and the state’s ability to provide a highly-skilled workforce to the innovative companies that are located and growing in Massachusetts. Last October, Governor Patrick was joined by Lieutenant Governor 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

“The strength of our Commonwealth will be built in the STEM fields, so partnerships of this nature are critical to our success,” said Education Secretary Paul Reville. “Our job as educators is to spark in students a deep interest in the exploration in the areas of STEM and this partnership will animate that work.”

Grant proposals for this competitive pilot program were submitted by the Space Grant Consortium in each applying state. MIT leads the Massachusetts’ Space Grant Consortium and partners with numerous colleges and universities throughout the state. For this grant application, Lieutenant Governor Murray, on behalf of the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council, partnered with MIT and the UMass Donahue Institute in preparation for the grant application’s submittal. The application successfully proposed that MIT, as well as UMASS Medical, UMASS Boston, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Framingham State College, and Tufts University receive funding from NASA.

“The Summer of Innovation award was made possible by the extensive educational network created by NASA’s Massachusetts Space Grant and recognizes the extensive efforts by the state of Massachusetts for STEM education,” said Jeffrey Hoffman, former astronaut and Professor of the Practice in MIT’s Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

Based on the Massachusetts Space Grant Consortium proposal, the six programs funded in Massachusetts will focus on providing NASA’s robotics, Earth and space science, astrophysics and engineering missions, while also using innovation in extensive partnership to reach a broad and diverse population of students through intensive summer engagement programs.

“By engaging educators and students in an innovative manner, this grant represents an important piece of the STEM pipeline and will bear fruit far beyond the immediate gains. The Governor and Lieutenant Governor have done an amazing job bringing together all of the important stakeholders as can be seen by the participants in this process,” said Representative Daniel Bosley, Co-Chair of the Goddard Council.

The six Massachusetts programs awarded funding were:

Zero-Robotics – Aurora Flight Systems, MIT Space Systems Laboratory, MA Afterschool Program – Middle school students will work with MIT undergraduates to learn how to program and operate Synchronized Position Hold Engage and Reorient Experimental Satellites, mini-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 Center for Engineering Education and Outreach and Christa McAuliffe Challenger Learning Center at Framingham State – The “Living in Space” curriculum will introduce students to the challenges astronauts face while living on the International Space Station, as well as the research necessary to determine whether humans can travel to and live on other planets. The curriculum will use the engineering design process to have the students use LEGO robotics to explore fundamental mathematics (Algebra I and II and Geometry), science (Physics) and technology (computer programming) concepts.

Goddard Girls – UMass Medical School – Named in recognition of Worcester native Robert Goddard, the father of modern rocketry, the Goddard Girls will work in the Worcester Planetarium and at the Regional Science Resource Center doing science and other STEM-related activities.

STEM in Astronautics and Space Sciences – Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) – Middle school students from female, low-income and underserved/underrepresented/underperforming populations will come to WPI for a two-week long, non-residential program where they will participate in a fun, intensive and hands-on experience. The students will work closely with the teachers-in-training, learning about aeronautics, astronautics and space sciences with clear STEM components that can serve as catalysts for student learning.

Talented & Gifted Latino Program & Astronomy – UMass Boston, Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and MIT Kavli Institute for Astrophysics – Talented and Gifted (TAG) will lead an intensive five-week summer program that prepares 300 students by providing academic classes (enrichment or support) in the morning, and recreational and cultural activities in the afternoon. Summer TAG has been recognized nationally as a “Best Practice Model” for English Language Learners. Students will visit space science labs, a planetarium, observatories, university campuses and the control center for the Chandra X-ray Observatory, as well as participate in dance and theater programs targeted to astronomy STEM content.

You Go Girls – MIT Edgerton Center – The Edgerton Center will sponsor four summer camp opportunities with Space Grant Summer of Innovation support. It will serve school systems in Cambridge, Boston and Gloucester. Programs include: a two-week materials science and engineering experience for eighth graders from Cambridge; “You Go Girls,” an intensive one-week technology education and confidence building program for girls between eighth and ninth grades; a six-week engineering design and fabrication experience; and a two-week summer camp in science, technology and engineering for Gloucester middle school children.

The Summer of Innovation pilot program was implemented through NASA ‘s National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program. In addition to Massachusetts, NASA awarded three other cooperative agreements, totaling approximately $5.6 million. The Summer of Innovation program will be conducted in 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.


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