Program Founded By Former Astronaut
awareness of two successful Mars probes and a new commitment to
space exploration have filtered down to the classroom.
The Mars success and confidence in new space initiatives have
caused a spike in activity at the Florida Space Research Institute
(FSRI). The institute, based at The Kennedy Space Center, provides
the background in space education for all ages, says Dr. Sam
Durrance a former astronaut and Founder-President of FSRI.
"We're working with K-12 schools, home-schoolers, community
colleges and universities on a regular basis to integrate our
web-based programs into their curricula," said Durrance, "The Mars
rovers have expanded the demand."
A private/public partnership,the Florida Space Research
Institute was established by the Florida's Governor Jeb Bush and
the Legislature to promote collaboration among the state's academic
institutions, space-related companies, and federal space agencies
to support nationwide space-related education, training, research
and technology development.
"During the first week of classes this semester, I had students
in our new aerospace sciences class bring me homework assignments
that weren't due for another week," says Captain Dick Petrucci USN
(ret.) a teacher at Sarasota Military Academy. "One student was
bragging that now he knew his weight on Mars, adjusted for
Capt. Petrucci has enrolled his class in the FSRI program
maintained by the Florida Space Research Institute (FSRI)
headquartered at Kennedy Space Center. Other science teachers are
seeing the same reaction.
Mars has also piqued the interest of the Civil Air Patrol, which
is implementing the same program for its cadet "Squadrons of
Excellence" across the United States.
"We want to stay at the cutting edge of educational
opportunities," said Lt. Col. John Lynn, Director of Aerospace
Education for CAP's Florida Wing. "Since the program is web-based,
our cadets can take the training any time their schedule allows,
and they have the option to get high school credit if they