LOS ANGELES, Sept. 27, 2011 -- The Northrop Grumman Foundation launched 30 math and science teachers from California and Nevada into weightlessness yesterday as part of the Weightless Flights of Discovery teacher development program. The program, which is in its sixth and final year, provides educators with a unique opportunity to participate in microgravity flights and conduct real-life science experiments that test Newton's Laws of Motion. The goal for the Foundation is for the flight experiences to enhance classroom learning and increase student excitement in science and math during their formative middle school years.
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.
The teachers on the Los Angeles flight used tubes, tennis balls, meters, hula hoops, and themselves, among other props, to conduct their in-flight experiments. One teacher, a diabetic, even flew with her glucose monitor to determine what affect zero-gravity could have on her insulin levels.
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 causes deep concern 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. The Northrop Grumman Foundation 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. "This program, along with others supported by the Northrop Grumman Foundation, is very much aligned with this important national goal, and has had a tremendous impact on thousands of newly inspired students based on the more than 1,100 teachers we have flown."
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 percent reported an increase in the number of students interested in pursuing science- and math-related careers; and 92.3 percent reporting a notable increase in their students' overall interest in science.
Zero Gravity Corporation is a privately held company whose mission is to make the excitement and adventure of weightlessness accessible to the public. ZERO-G is based in Vienna, Va. and is the first and only FAA-approved provider of weightless flights to the general public, as well as the entertainment and film industries; corporate and incentive market; non-profit research and education sectors; and government. Since launching the ZERO-G Experience in September 2004, the company has conducted more than 250 weightless flights and flown over 6,000 members of the public, including celebrities and media personalities, corporate charters, science and math teachers, and individuals aged eight to 93. For more information please visit http://www.gozerog.com/
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 firstname.lastname@example.org Rosalie Hagel / Lindsay Ressler M. Silver Associates Inc. (954) 765-3636 Rosalie@msilver-pr.com Lindsayr@msilver-pr.com