MELBOURNE, Fla., Sept. 30, 2008 -- Fifty-nine Florida teachers floated in weightlessness in the skies above the Kennedy Space Center today as part of the Northrop Grumman (NYSE:NOC) Foundation's Weightless Flights of Discovery program. The goal: to inspire and prepare the next generation of scientists, engineers and mathematicians -- critical areas where the United States has fallen behind globally.
"We want to encourage students to pursue careers in science and technology," said Sandra Evers-Manly, president of the Northrop Grumman Foundation, which sponsors the flights. "Our experience has shown that we can inspire students by first inspiring their teachers through their participation in this unique program."
"Teachers are the unsung heroes," said Tom Vice, sector vice president for Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems' Eastern Region. "In this age of economic globalization, private industry and education must work together to ensure we keep our competitive edge. The Weightless Flights of Discovery is an important investment in our workforce development -- giving teachers new tools to engage and excite their students so that more young men and women choose paths toward science, technology, engineering and math careers."
Teaming with Zero Gravity Corp, the teachers participate in a parabolic or "zero-gravity" aircraft flight that mimics how astronauts train for space flights and creates temporary weightlessness comparable to what humans experience during space travel.
The teachers performed a number of experiments during flights that simulated Martian, lunar and zero gravities. The experiments were designed to test Newton's Laws of Motion and ranged from teacher tosses and "Superman" flights to pendulum bobs and digital accelerometers to measure acceleration due to gravity. Many of the teachers worked with their students before the flights to form hypotheses about the effects of microgravity on the experiments. Following the flights, the teachers will bring their first-hand experiences, enthusiasm and videotaped experiments of science-in-action into the classroom, where they will be integrated into lesson plans.
The Northrop Grumman Foundation Weightless Flights of Discovery is an innovative hands-on training program that gives teachers an 'out-of-this-world' experience as a way to help them inspire their students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math.
For more information, visit: http://www.northropgrumman.com/community/weightless.html .
Northrop Grumman Corporation is a global defense and technology company whose 120,000 employees provide innovative systems, products, and solutions in information and services, electronics, aerospace and shipbuilding to government and commercial customers worldwide.
Editor's Note: Video, hi-res photos and teacher interviews available upon request.
CONTACT: Jim Stratford Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems (321) 726-7526 firstname.lastname@example.org