Orlando Science Center Awarded Major NASA Grant

Orlando Science Center Awarded Major NASA Grant
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Collaboration will take STEM engagement directly to underrepresented students in neighborhood community centers, including a nationwide engineering design challenge

NASA has recently awarded Orlando Science Center (OSC) a three-year $795,000 grant to support a multi-year partnership with national reach that implements weekly STEM engagement for youth from underserved communities across the City of Orlando. The Science Center was one of only three institutions nationwide to receive funding in this cycle. As NASA presses forward with plans to return astronauts to the Moon through the Artemis missions and expand our understanding of the universe with the James Webb Space Telescope, the agency is working to ensure students across the U.S. can have the opportunity to share in the excitement of space exploration.

NASA has recently awarded Orlando Science Center (OSC) a three-year $795,000 grant to support a multi-year partnership with national reach that implements weekly STEM engagement for youth from underserved communities across the City of Orlando. The Science Center was one of only three institutions nationwide to receive funding in this cycle. As NASA presses forward with plans to return astronauts to the Moon through the Artemis missions and expand our understanding of the universe with the James Webb Space Telescope, the agency is working to ensure students across the U.S. can have the opportunity to share in the excitement of space exploration.

Orlando Science Center has launched Neighborhood Science, an initiative focused on providing high-quality STEM education for multiple days each week in afterschool programs and community centers within underrepresented neighborhoods. The first Neighborhood Science program will feature a STEM lab in the Grand Avenue Community Center in Orlando’s Holden Heights neighborhood. Through consistent and authentic STEM learning, this program will help address the rising demand for STEM careers in Florida and the intense underrepresentation of women and people of color in STEM fields across the country.

The NASA award will support a collaboration between OSC, NASA’s Kennedy Space Center Swampworks, and the City of Orlando’s Grand Avenue neighborhood community center. Content will be in alignment with ARTEMIS and NASA’s Communication Themes (Humans in Space & Moon to Mars). It will also create and launch a new engineering design challenge for teams that can be scaled nationwide in year 3. This project will enable participants to work together to authentically contribute to NASA’s ARTEMIS mission using virtual engineering platforms like TinkerCAD, real-world materials and supplies, and evidence-based engineering designs. Participating youth will create a solution to a problem identified by NASA KSC Swampworks that astronauts engaged in the ARTEMIS mission may face as they live in space or travel from the Moon to Mars.

“We are excited to partner with the Orlando Science Center and NASA’s Kennedy Space Center Swampworks to bring a STEM lab directly to our young residents at the newly renovated Grand Avenue Neighborhood Center,” said Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer. “We are grateful for such partnerships and collaboration to ensure our young residents have more opportunities to learn, grow and thrive in the City of Orlando.”

NASA’s TEAM II grant program provided substantial multi-year funding to only three informal education organizations nationwide during this cycle. Projects were selected with the goal of helping to inspire the next generation of explorers through STEM learning – and to expand student participation in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Informal education institutions, such as science museums, planetariums, libraries, and zoos are uniquely positioned to reach students, including those who are historically underrepresented and underserved in STEM fields.