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NASA Kicks Off 'Summer of Innovation' for Middle Schoolers

NASA the other day formally launched its so-called Summer of Innovation initiative, which aims to engage thousands of middle school students in STEM activities during the summer months.

Thumbnail image for AirRockets_NASA.JPG

The initiative was first announced last fall as part of President Barack Obama's Educate to Innovate campaign to promote excellence in the STEM fields—science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

"I hope that by getting ... students involved in NASA's missions and programs now, it may pave the way for a new generation of scientists and engineers, which is critically important to our nation's future," NASA Administrator Charles F. Bolden said at the kickoff event held last week at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.

A NASA press release describes the Summer of Innovation as "a broad, nationwide effort that will leverage partnerships with academia, industry, and government." It notes that the summer months are a time when many students experience the "summer slide," losing some of the skills they acquired during the academic year. The program has a special emphasis on ensuring strong participation from low-income and minority students.

As part of the initiative, the space agency in late April announced partnerships with four state consortia in Idaho, Massachusetts, New Mexico, and Wyoming.

For example, the Wyoming project, "Powering STEM Education in Wyoming With Wind Energy," will focus on a statewide, intensive, interactive program about climate change and energy that culminates in the development of fully functional wind turbines and weather stations with remote monitoring capabilities for continued research, the press release says. "This project ties aeronautics and climate change together with wind turbines and provides students with an understanding of the impact of climate change locally and globally," it says.

Photo: Students participating in the Summer of Innovation watch their air-powered rocket creations soar. NASA/JPL-Caltech

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