U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander today asked NASA Administrator Michael Griffin to expand the agency’s math and science education programs, noting that “There’s no better place to inspire the next generation of scientists than NASA.”
NASA education programs include Space Camp, based in Huntsville, Alabama, and the NASA Stars program, in which Tennessee’s Rhodes College participates (Maryville College is also considering joining). Teachers in NASA Stars receive extensive training in integrating the NASA-sanctioned science curriculum into their science lesson plans. A total of 435 NASA Stars students and 16 teachers will attend Space Camp this school year.
“Huntsville would be a great center for more summer academies for outstanding math and science teachers from Tennessee and other nearby states,” Alexander said, noting that is son had attended Space camp.
Speaking at a hearing of the Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Subcommittee, of which he is a member, Alexander highlighted the America COMPETES Act, which he introduced with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, and considers the most important single piece of legislation in this session of Congress.
“The top priority of the most important bill in this session of Congress is better training of math and science teachers to inspire their students,” Alexander said. “Preparing the next generation of scientists is critical if we are to preserve America’s brainpower advantage and create the best new jobs here at home.”
The America Competes Act would create up to 400 four-year scholarships for science, technology, engineering and math undergraduates earning concurrent teacher certification in Tennessee. (The new teachers would be expected to teach in low-income schools for at least five years after graduation.) It also includes funding for training AP teachers, high-tech internships, and other programs in Tennessee and nationwide.