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NASA Ignite! Presents at Because Kids Count Conference

NASA Ignite! , a STEM education program launched in collaboration with Indiana Afterschool Network (IAN), Indiana Department of Education (IDOE), WisdomTools Inc., and Indiana Youth Institute (IYI), was one of nearly 100 exhibitors at the “Teaching Hope: Because Kids Count” conference on December 6-7 hosted by IYI at Indiana Convention Center. NASA Ignite! presented two sessions demonstrating NASA education activities and discussing how afterschool education can help meet the STEM education needs of America’s students.

NASA Ignite!, Indiana’s Summer of Innovation education effort, presented to a diverse audience of over 60 participants, including educators, administrators, and youth workers. STEM in Afterschool Programs: NASA Ignite was conducted by Julie Muffler, NASA Aerospace Education Curriculum Specialist, and Adrienne Evans Fernandez, Lead Content and Curriculum Designer from WisdomTools Inc. In this workshop, participants learned about the background and mission of NASA Ignite! and experienced a sample of the excellent, hands-on activities available from NASA. NASA Ignite! staff also contributed to The National STEM Agenda and Afterschool presented by Anita Krishnamurthi, Director of STEM Policy of Afterschool Alliance and Sonny Kirkley, CEO of WisdomTools Inc. Here, panelists addressed how afterschool and informal programs complement the national STEM education agenda and contribute to building a stronger STEM workforce.

In these sessions, participants shared experiences concerning the implementation of afterschool programs like NASA Ignite!. This unique program works jointly with the participants to maximize the free resources available on the website: http://ignite.wisdomtools.com. These resources include space-themed computer games, face-to-face and web-based professional training, as well as NASA curriculum organized into thirteen STEM content strands, each with hands-on activities to enhance students’ learning experiences.

“The workshop was very informative and FUN!” said Diane Huerkamp, a workshop participant from Mooresville, Indiana, “The resources are amazing, I love the ”flight deck’ [website] and the work that the team has collaboratively prepared, organized, and are disseminating; simply amazing. As the workforce of tomorrow, igniting and encouraging our youth to explore the sciences is mission critical; the NASA Ignite! not only ignites interest, it follows through with creative and fun hands-on approaches which stimulate discovery and exploration!”

The Because Kids Count conference showcases contributions from organizations serving the Hoosier youth community and attracts more than 1500 youth workers, community leaders, youth ministers, educators, counselors, and others working to make a positive impact on the lives of children in Indiana.

Funded by the National Aeronautics and Space Adminstration’s (NASA) Summer of Innovation (SoI) program, the four-year NASA Ignite! program uses innovative, standards-based NASA curriculum, integrated with space-themed computer games and an exciting e-mentoring program, to inspire, engage, and motivate middle school students to learn about STEM topics and careers.

Educators interested in joining NASA Ignite! and integrating NASA activities into their afterschool and summer efforts should email ignite@wisdomtools.com or visit http://ignite.wisdomtools.com to find out more information.

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