OSC to engage hospitalized children with STEM through NASA grant

By OSC on May 8, 2017 in Education, What's New

When children are hospitalized, they are unable to engage in active study or attend classes. Orlando Science Center is working to solve this problem by developing a series of mobile exhibits that will shorten children’s learning gap during their hospital stay while motivating them to pursue STEM learning and careers.

Orlando Science Center will receive $1.2 million over 5 years from NASA to develop and implement an outreach program that will bring hands-on STEM activities to children with critical illnesses in Central Florida.

Partnering with planetary science experts and education researchers from the University of Central Florida, the Science Center will design and develop stimulating activities on mobile exhibit carts that can be scaled to the educational needs of a historically underserved and underrepresented population of children and youth, ages 10 to 18.

The STEM mobile satellites will be accessible to patients at Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children, Nemours Children’s Hospital and Florida Hospital for Children starting in fall 2018.

The Science Center and UCF will incorporate NASA data and artifacts from prior NASA missions, UCF planetary science collections, and Kennedy Space Center resources into all mobile cart exhibits. Volunteers from BASE Camp Children’s Cancer Foundation will be trained by Science Center educators to facilitate these programs during hospital visits.

The project will provide authentic experiences that mirror current and planned NASA missions at a level that the children can understand, addressing real engineering problems facing space exploration today and NASA’s contributions to everyday life.

Its goals align with NASA’s education goal of engaging Americans in NASA’s mission through strategic partnerships and linkages between STEM formal and informal education providers to promote STEM literacy and awareness of NASA’s mission.

“Providing high level engaging and authentic STEM activities to this audience through mobile exhibits is unprecedented.”

— JoAnn Newman, Orlando Science Center President and CEO


“Our STEM Satellites program marks a crucial turning point in how educational programs are conceived and delivered to children in hospitals.”

— Dr. Megan Nickels, Assistant Professor of STEM Education at UCF and one of the program’s developers


“This program will help inspire and educate some of the kids who need it the most.”

— U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL)



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