NASA has expanded the Explorer Schools program during a time when the number of students pursuing math, science and engineering degrees is dropping. The Explorer Schools program helps with teacher professional development. It also shows how classroom lessons apply to the real world. NASA Chief Education Officer Doctor Adena Williams Loston says Explorer Schools bring lesson plans to NASA for feedback and ideas.
The Explorer School program began two years ago in grades five through eight. It now covers grades four through nine. Loston says the hope is the program will change students performance, but the program is not old enough to see any trends. National assessment standards who there's room for improvement. Loston says fourth graders nationwide get average ratings.
The Explorer Schools enjoy a three year partnership with NASA. The program is designed to have a minimum of 150 schools. Teacher Barbara Morgan was selected for the Teacher in Space program and trained with Christa McAuliffe. Morgan is training for a space flight to the International Space Station in late 2006. Morgan says the program inspires that future workforce.
Three Texas schools were added to the Explorer Schools, they are in Brownsville, El Paso and San Antonio. James Madison High School in Houston is into its second year in the program.