Northrop Grumman Foundation Makes Science and Math Education “Weightless”
One of the major obstacles to recruiting students into science, technology, engineering, and math careers is making science and math relevant and exciting. Northrop Grumman has recognized this challenge and is playing its part to help inspire students through an innovative program called Weightless Flights of Discovery. Launched in 2006 in conjunction with the Zero Gravity Corporation (ZERO-G), this teacher professional development program seeks to showcase the exciting side of science and math for public middle-school teachers, who can then bring their experiences back to their students and inspire them to look towards science and math careers.
Teachers first attend a workshop in which they learn about the physics of weightlessness and what to expect on their upcoming zero gravity flight in an aircraft that creates temporary weightlessness similar to what astronauts experience during a flight to the moon. They also work with their students in the classroom to develop microgravity experiments that apply STEM topics to a weightless environment. Finally, teachers perform their experiments while on the aircraft. The entire experience is videotaped and given to the teachers so that they can bring their experiences back home to their classrooms. Teachers are also given an educator’s guide as an additional tool to bring their experiences back to their students.
“Every engineer, every scientist, every technically trained person in our nation can look back and identify a teacher who played a significant role in his or her decision to pursue a technical career,” explains Sandra Evers-Manly, president of the Northrop Grumman Foundation. “The Weightless Flights of Discovery program is all about giving teachers the tools and experiences they need to show their students that math and science are not only entertaining, but can also be the basis for a fascinating career.”
Applications are now being accepted for the 2009 Weightless Flights of Discovery Program. Find out how to participate and learn more about this innovative, inspiring program online.