Sahuarita Unified School District classrooms will be field testing a new STEM-related program called Xtronaut and providing teacher and student feedback on the educational kits that link STEM projects to actual science and engineering associated with NASA missions before the full launch in August 2015.
Last month, Sahuarita administrators met to hear a presentation about the new Xtronaut program founded by Dante Lauretta, a University of Arizona professor and principal investigator on the OSIRIS-REx mission, and space entrepreneur Michael Lyon of Lyon Capital Services in response to budget reductions that eliminated the NASA-funded OSIRIS-REx Education and Public Outreach program.
Xtronaut is focused on developing and supporting educational kits that link STEM learning products to the actual science and engineering associated with OSIRIS-REx and other missions.
The program received strong support from Sahuarita Unified administrators.
“Everyone at SUSD is excited about being part of this program,” said Dr. Manuel Valenzuela, Sahuarita superintendent. “We see a great need for this type of program in schools today and we find the Xtronaut program quite innovative.”
“Over the next year, we will be working with Xtronaut on their educational programs ahead of the full launch in schools in August 2015,” Valenzuela said. “This endeavor is a fantastic opportunity to connect our students to a real space mission, being led by a world-class university right down the road from our schools.”
The education kits for classroom and after school program use, and will include teacher and student workbooks, videos by leading scientists and engineers, online opportunities for students to connect to mission leaders and hands-on experiments for each classroom.
The education program will be provided to schools free of charge thanks to donations and sponsors.
Sahuarita Unified School District has been gaining ground in its offerings of STEM-related programs.
Recently the school district received a grant from the Freeport-McMoRan Community Investment Funds that will help support the third year of math and science after school programs at each of the SUSD school sites.
“The STEM fields have been identified as a common denominator, which link multiple business sectors of our regional community, both now and in the foreseeable future,” Valenzuela said. “The District is committed to strategic efforts in supporting these efforts as part of the SUSD 2020 Directions Plan.”