- NASA has awarded almost $10 million in grants to informal education organizations in seven states to help inspire the next generation of scientists and explorers.
The organizations include two botanical gardens, five museums, one foundation and one NASA visitor center. The selected projects include botany experiments focused on growing food in space, technology challenges using caves as an analog environment for other planets, hands-on aviation exhibits, and a traveling exhibit focusing on life in Earth’s extreme environments.
“A highly educated and well-prepared workforce has been and continues to be critical to the success of the agency’s mission. NASA’s investment in education is directly linked to inspiring the next generation of explorers and innovators,” said Donald James, associate administrator of NASA’s Office of Education in Washington. “Hands-on interactive educational activities engage students, educators, families, and the general public to increase Americans’ science and technology literacy.”
Nine proposals were selected from 73 applications through a peer reviewed process for NASA’s Competitive Program for Science Museums, Planetariums and NASA Visitor Centers Plus Other Opportunities. The selected projects range in value from approximately $420,000 to $1.25 million. Organizations will implement their proposals over the next one to five years, depending on their project.
The selected organizations are:
- DNC Parks & Resorts at KSC, Inc., Kennedy Space Center, Florida
- Fairchild Tropical Botanical Gardens, Coral Gables, Florida
- Orlando Science Center, Florida
- Museum of Aviation, Robins Air Force Base, Warner Robins, Georgia
- Exploration Place, Wichita, Kansas
- Museum of Science, Boston
- The Sciencenter, Ithaca, New York
- Nurture Nature Center, Easton, Pennsylvania
- Wex Foundation, San Antonio
These organizations will partner with other museums, K-12 and higher education institutions, hospitals and industry to create exhibits, educational programming and curricula, immersive multimedia, and hands-on, inquiry-based activities. Such projects extend the reach of informal learning organizations, with the goals of increasing critical-thinking skills and engineering and science literacy while also preparing youth for careers in science, technology, engineering and math. Many will focus on providing opportunities to youth in populations that are historically underrepresented in STEM professions.
The selected organizations will collaborate with NASA’s Museum Alliance, a nationwide network of informal education professionals at over 700 science museums, planetariums, NASA visitor centers, Challenger Centers, youth-serving organizations, camps, libraries, visitor centers at observatories and parks, nature centers, aquariums and zoos.
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, created and manages the Museum Alliance for the agency.