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Colorado Springs School District 11 and Space Foundation to Open Aerospace Academy this Fall

06/10/2009

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Jun. 10, 2009) -- Colorado Springs School District 11 (D-11) has approved a proposal to create an aerospace-focused middle school in the former Emerson Middle School in partnership with the Colorado Springs-based Space Foundation. The duration of the agreement is five years with options for automatic renewals for three successive five-year periods.

The new school, which will be named Jack Swigert Aerospace Academy in honor of former astronaut and Colorado native John L. "Jack" Swigert, will open this fall with a space-related curriculum designed to drive proficiency in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). It is located at 4220 E. Pikes Peak Ave. in southeastern Colorado Springs.

Under the terms of the agreement, the Space Foundation will:

  • Deliver on-site space-related education programs for students and teachers;
  • Provide opportunities for students and teachers to participate in Space Foundation programs that bring space industry leaders and leading-edge technologies to the Colorado Springs area;
  • Provide enhanced professional development for Swigert Aerospace Academy teachers;
  • Create state-of-the-art teaching facilities and equipment; and
  • Develop an on-site National STEM Teacher Training Center that will serve the entire district as well as bring in educators from throughout the country.
  • Space Foundation education personnel will relocate from the Space Foundation's South 14th Street headquarters to the school to provide on-site support for teachers.

"This partnership exemplifies all that we seek to provide to students. Curriculum will be project-based and interdisciplinary and will include tech tools that bring out students' creativity," said Mike Poore, District 11 deputy superintendent, Educational Support Services. "Additionally, D-11 students will benefit from having leading experts in space education interacting at the Swigert Aerospace Academy on a daily basis."

"This is an extraordinary opportunity to demonstrate what the Space Foundation has known for years: relating math, science, and technology education to the enthralling mysteries of space is a powerful teaching tool," said Elliot Holokauahi Pulham, chief executive officer of the Space Foundation. "Children learn better, retain more and are more inclined to pursue higher levels of technical education when they participate in hands-on space-related learning activities. We are thrilled to be D-11's partner in this endeavor."

The Space Foundation is a recognized leader in global space awareness activities, educational programs that bring space into the classroom, and major industry events, including the National Space Symposium, which brings more than 8,000 space leaders from around the world to Colorado Springs each spring.

Student Programs
Among the student programs provided at the new space school will be a customized version of the Space Foundation's Science, Technology, and Academic Readiness for Space (STARS) curriculum. STARS includes 90 minutes of Space Foundation-provided instruction each week as well as follow-up classroom activities on topics such as rocketry principles, astronomy, earth systems science, and principles of flight. Students may also have opportunities to attend education sessions at the National Space Symposium and to interact with government and industry space leaders.

Teacher Programs
The Space Foundation will ensure that teachers have the skills to provide space-related instruction in the classroom through a series of in-service, professional development, and training programs. The Space Foundation will also conduct its Colorado Springs Space Discovery Institutes at the Swigert Aerospace Academy beginning in 2010. These intensive week-long classes provide ready-to-use space-related STEM lesson and activity plans and can be applied toward master's degrees in a variety of science and space studies specialty areas.

Teaching Facilities and Equipment
The Swigert Aerospace Academy will house three learning labs to enhance classroom learning opportunities:

  • The Mission Control Lab, which will open during the second semester, will simulate launch, flight and landing of a plethora of satellite space missions.
  • The Planetary Rover Lab, which will open during the 2010-2011 school year, will include construction of a simulated Martian terrain to be used for robotics missions using student-designed-and-built robots.
  • The Science on a Sphere (SoS) Lab, which will be built if adequate philanthropic support can be secured, will house a room-sized global display system that uses computers and video projectors to display planetary and solar system data and images onto a six-foot-diameter sphere. Developed by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), SoS can illustrate many compelling images, including atmospheric storms, climate change trends, ocean temperatures, and celestial bodies.

Although primarily for use within the Swigert Aerospace Academy, the labs can also host classes from other schools within the district and students from other districts, providing additional financial resources for the school.

The new Swigert Aerospace Academy will align with Mitchell High School, where District 11 plans to create aerospace career pathways.

About School District 11
Colorado Springs School District 11 is the largest school district in the Colorado Springs area with 35 elementary schools, nine middle schools, five high schools, six alternative schools and six charter schools. As one of the oldest school districts in Colorado Springs, District 11 enjoys a long and distinguished history of providing excellent education. The district is committed to providing the best in educational choices for the 21st century graduate and offers many unique and exceptional educational opportunities - elementary, middle and high school International Baccalaureate programs and fine arts focus schools, a math/science magnet middle school, CORE Knowledge, Advanced Placement courses, unique Gifted and Talented services, a comprehensive Career and Technology Education program, a digital high school at the Citadel Mall, and the only public Montessori program for elementary students in the region. District 11 staff excellence includes such recent honors as a Colorado Title I Distinguished School, the Colorado High School Chemistry Teacher of the Year, a 2009 National PTA Parent Involvement School of Excellence, and a 2009 Colorado Trailblazer School to Watch. D- 11 students consistently take top honors in state and national academic competitions in forensics, history, geography, writing, foreign languages, vocational education, music, art, English, math and science. For more information, please watch Comcast Channel 16, visit www.d11.org or call 719-520-2005.

About the Space Foundation
The Space Foundation is an international nonprofit organization and the foremost advocate for all sectors of the space industry - civil, commercial, and national security. Founded in 1983, the Space Foundation is a leader in space awareness activities, space-related educational programs, and industry events, all in support of its mission "to advance space-related endeavors to inspire, enable, and propel humanity." An expert in all aspects of the global space industry, the Space Foundation publishes The Space Report 2009: The Authoritative Guide to Global Space Activity and provides three indices that track daily performance of the space industry. Along with partnering organizations, the Space Foundation will sponsor the Strategic Space Symposium with USSTRATCOM Nov. 2-4 in Omaha, Neb., and the 26th National Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colo., April 12-15, 2010. Headquartered in Colorado Springs, the Space Foundation conducts research and analysis and government affairs activities from its Washington, D.C., office and has field representatives in Houston, Texas, and Cape Canaveral, Fla. For more information, visit www.SpaceFoundation.org. Follow us on Twitter: SpaceFoundation.
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