LOS ANGELES, Aug. 23, 2011 -- The Northrop Grumman Foundation is pleased to announce this year's Weightless Flights of Discovery "Class of 2011." Thirty math and science teachers from California and Nevada have been selected to participate in this year's teacher development program. The selected teachers will participate in a unique initiative that places them on micro-gravity flights to test Newton's Laws of Motion and in-turn energizes their students in the formative middle school years. The flight will take place in Long Beach, Calif. on Sept. 26, 2011.

The Northrop Grumman Foundation is partnering with the Zero Gravity Corporation to offer the Weightless Flights of Discovery program, one of several initiatives the Northrop Grumman Foundation sponsors to promote education and stimulate student interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields.

"Our Foundation's mission is to develop unique, sustainable programs that work on a national and grass roots level to inspire interest in STEM subjects, and the Weightless Flights of Discovery initiative is one of many that we undertake to follow through on that commitment," said Sandra Evers-Manly, president of the Northrop Grumman Foundation.

The teachers will participate in a full-day workshop several weeks before their flights. They then will work with their students to develop experiments to be conducted in lunar gravity, Martian gravity and weightlessness environments. Following the approximately two-hour flight, each teacher will share his or her experiences with their students back in the classroom using video and photos taken during the flight.

The Northrop Grumman Foundation Weightless Flights of Discovery program was created in response to a shortage of college graduates in the STEM disciplines within the United States, a development that bodes ill for the nation's industries that depend on talented scientists and mathematicians. The program targets middle-school math and science teachers primarily because studies have indicated that a child's interest in pursuing a certain career in the areas of science and math is sparked at the middle school level. Northrop Grumman developed the Weightless Flights of Discovery to engage teachers, because they serve as key influencers in the lives of students during these crucial years.

"Our nation's leaders, including President Obama, through his 'Educate to Innovate' initiative, recognize the need to strengthen STEM education in the United States," said Evers-Manly. "This program, along with others supported by the Northrop Grumman Foundation are very much aligned with this important national goal."

Demonstrating the program's overall impact, a poll conducted in 2009 of 230 teachers who participated in the first three years of the program revealed that 84.7% reported an increase in the number of students interested in pursuing science- and math-related careers; and 92.3% reporting a notable increase in their students' overall interest in science.

Teachers participating in the Los Angeles, Calif. flight include:

To learn more about the Northrop Grumman Foundation Weightless Flights of Discovery, visit www.northropgrumman.com/goweightless .

Become a fan of the Northrop Grumman Foundation Weightless Flights of Discovery on Facebook and follow the program on Twitter .

The Northrop Grumman Foundation supports diverse and sustainable programs for students and teachers. These programs create innovative education experiences in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. For more information please visit www.northropgrumman.com/foundation .

  CONTACT: Margaret Mitchell-Jones
         Northrop Grumman Corporation
         (703) 280-2739
         m.mitchell-jones@ngc.com
         
         Rosalie Hagel / Rebecca Rakitin
         M. Silver Associates Inc.
         (954) 765-3636
         Rosalie@msilver-pr.com
         Rebecca@msilver-pr.com
 

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