LOS ANGELES, Aug. 15, 2011 -- The Northrop Grumman Foundation is pleased to announce this year's Weightless Flights of Discovery "Class of 2011." Thirty educators, 28 math and science teachers from Arizona, Maryland, New York, Ohio, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington, D.C., along with two college students studying to become teachers, have been selected to participate in this year's teacher development program. These educators will participate in a unique initiative that places them on micro-gravity flights to test Newton's Laws of Motion and in turn energize their students, most of whom are in their formative middle school years. The flight will take place in the Washington, D.C. area on Sept. 12, 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 mathematics (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.
Selected teachers will participate in a full-day workshop several weeks before their flights. Teachers then will work with their students to develop experiments to be conducted in lunar gravity, Martian gravity and weightless 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," Evers-Manly said.Â "This program, along with others supported by the Northrop Grumman Foundation, is 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 Washington, D.C. flight include:
|Matt Bieber||Chesapeake Bay Middle School||Pasadena||Maryland|
|Alexander Byland||Marley Middle School||Glen Burnie||Maryland|
|Melanie Coronel||Samuel Ogle Middle School||Bowie||Maryland|
|Michael Cox||Morrell Park Elementary/Middle||Baltimore||Maryland|
|Jocelyn David||William C. March Middle School||Baltimore||Maryland|
|Michelle Dugan||Lake Elkhorn Middle School||Columbia||Maryland|
|Holly Eglin||Liberty Middle School||Clifton||Virginia|
|Susan Esworthy||New Market Middle School||New Market||Maryland|
|Sandra Frederick||Centreville Middle School||Centreville||Maryland|
|Luis Gonzalez||Parkville Middle School and Center of Technology||Parkville||Maryland|
|Rodney Hosler||Wicomico Middle School||Salisbury||Maryland|
|Denise McKenna||Seneca Ridge Middle School||Sterling||Virginia|
|William Moulden||Samuel Ogle Middle School||Bowie||Maryland|
|Anthonette Pena||Stuart-Hobson Middle School||Washington||District of Columbia|
|Julie Perzan||Perry Hall Middle School||Baltimore||Maryland|
|Karen Pumphrey||Samuel Ogle Middle School||Bowie||Maryland|
|Lauren Rathmann||Wilde Lake Middle School||Columbia||Maryland|
|Carole Rehak||Perry Hall Middle School||Perry Hall||Maryland|
|Steven Showalter||Deep Creek Magnet Middle School||Essex||Maryland|
|Karen Stiller||Wilde Lake Middle School||Columbia||Maryland|
|Laura Petersen||Hamilton High School||Chandler||Arizona|
|Niharika Tyagi||Sterling Middle||Sterling||Virginia|
|Richard Wadsworth||Rocky Run Middle School||Chantilly||Virginia|
|Sarah Williams||Milton Somers Middle School||La Plata||Maryland|
|Leanna Wilson||Sterling Middle School||Sterling||Virginia|
|Joyce Zupko||Sterling Middle School||Sterling||Virginia|
|Ryan Karwiel||Stony Brook University||Stony Brook||New York|
|Shaylyn Leary||Salisbury University||Salisbury||Maryland|
|Timothy Taylor||Philo Junior High School||Philo||Ohio|
|Carrie Marcum||Spring Mills Middle School||Martinsburg||West Virginia|