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STEM at the College and University Level

Mercury Summer 2011 Table of Contents

by Michael G. Gibbs


SPHERES are bowling-ball-sized spherical satellites, designed to test a set of well-defined instructions for spacecraft performing autonomous rendezvous and docking maneuvers. Before a trial on the International Space Station, SPHERES was tested aboard NASA's KC-135 reduced-gravity aircraft. MIT students were co-investigators. Courtesy NASA / MIT.

When thinking about those who provide astronomy and space science Education and Public Outreach (EPO) programs, which groups do you immediately think of? Perhaps amateur astronomers interacting with the public at star parties comes to mind. Or you might consider programs in our K–12 schools — such as the Astronomical Society of the Pacific's "Project ASTRO," which works with in-service teachers in middle and high schools. Others might think about science centers and planetariums across the country that offer special programs for K–12 students. These are but a few examples.

Often we think of EPO programs, primarily in the K–12 range, that engage our children and students in science, and use astronomy as a spark to generate interest in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics — the STEM fields. But once students are inspired in elementary, middle, or high school, what is being done to support them when they reach college or university? What's being done to sustain the interest of undergraduate and graduate students to give them the needed STEM education before they enter the workforce?

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