High school students from traditionally underrepresented and underserved communities will have a path to pursue careers in STEM with help from NASA. The agency announced Monday it has selected seven Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and one Predominantly Black Institution (PBI) to receive more than $3 million in funding to strengthen their support for students in those communities in precollege summer programs around the nation.
“As we explore the cosmos for the benefit of all humanity, NASA remains steady in its effort to lift as we soar. NASA is not only committed to inspiring the Artemis Generation – we’re working to make sure they have the tools they need to succeed,” said NASA’s Senior Advisor for Engagement and Equity Shahra Lambert. “This funding will help open doors of opportunity for high school students across the country to help prepare and empower them for the future.”
MUREP Precollege Summer Institute (PSIs) uses evidence-based strategies to enhance high school students’ precollege performance, prepare them for college entrance, and ultimately help them achieve success in their higher education pursuits and in science, technology, engineering, and math careers.
“This project gives students an opportunity to experience what it’s like to live on a college campus, attend classes, and build relationships with professors and like-minded peers,” said Torry Johnson, MUREP project manager. “What makes this program special is that it’s tied to NASA research. Students will be participating in engineering design challenges and research related to NASA missions with support from NASA subject matter experts.”
The selected institutions and their proposed projects under NASA’s MUREP (Minority University Research and Education Project) are:
Albany State University, Georgia
ASU Accelerated Research Training Experience and Mentorship in STEM (ARTEMIS) 2.0 PSI Scholars Program
Albany State University (ASU) propose a two-week residential camp for students interested in pursuing a STEM-based career. Using the theme “Mission to Mars,” students will participate in NASA activities related to power generation and transmission; remote and autonomous vehicles and rocket propulsion; the geology of Earth and other planets; and the biology and chemistry of space travel. Students will become immersed in the expectations of life as a STEM student at ASU, gain useful knowledge about the campus, and build support networks to help ensure success in their life and in academics. ASU was awarded $425,000 for its proposal.
Clayton State University, Morrow, Georgia
Artificial Intelligence Study in Earth Exploration Summer Academy
Clayton State University proposes to host a NASA-themed summer program for minority high school students. This program will provide eight-day summer residential STEM camp exposing participants to college life, NASA research, Earth data, and Artificial Intelligence (AI). Participants will gain an understanding of NASA’s missions and learn how to apply AI technology to solve real-world problems in Earth science. Clayton State University was awarded $425,000 for its proposal.
Fayetteville State University, North Carolina
Fayetteville State University’s NASA MUREP Precollege Summer Institute: Cutting-Edge Technologies for Examining Climate Change (FSU-CTECC)
Fayetteville State University (FSU) proposes two-week long residential summer STEM camps over the five-year period of the project. Each year, 20 high school students will be recruited from high schools in Cumberland County and its surrounding counties in North Carolina. Project partners include NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, and multiple academic organizations and industries to provide STEM workshops for the students. FSU was awarded $423,487 for its proposal.
Lincoln University, Jefferson City, Missouri
Digital Agriculture, Data Science, and Robotics: Applied Research and Training for Enhancing Motivation in Science (DDR-ARTEMIS)
In collaboration with the University of Missouri, Lincoln University proposed two identical and intensive nine-day residential summer camps designed to offer keys for success for the participating students to advance their careers in STEM fields as undergraduate students and beyond. Each summer camp will accommodate 12 students for a total of 24 students each year. The educational program will provide hands-on experience for underrepresented minority students in digital agriculture, data science, and robotics to develop a broad understanding of STEM careers along with professional development activities and interaction with STEM professionals and entrepreneurs. Lincoln University was awarded $424,403 for its proposal.
Meharry Medical College, Nashville, Tennessee
Collaborative Interactive Data Science Academy
With the goal to stimulate curiosity in the cross-cutting field of data science and emerging technologies, Meharry Medical College proposed a discovery-based summer experience that implements virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality control of robotic systems using NASA geospatial and extra-terrestrial big data. This summer program will expose high school students to NASA research and data science tools; build statistical and critical thinking skills; and inspire the next generation of explorers, researchers, and data scientists. Meharry Medical College was awarded $418,448 for its proposal.
Tuskegee University, Alabama
Tuskegee’s Summer Institute for Increasing Diversity Among Incoming STEM Undergraduates
The focus of Tuskegee’s Summer Institute is to prepare students for college and retain students in biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematics. The project will equip prospective college students with basic skills necessary for success in college and close the STEM education gap for students from underserved communities. Tuskegee was awarded $424,939 for its proposal.
University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Princess Anne
HAWKS MUREP Precollege Summer Institute (PSI)
The University of Maryland, Eastern Shore (UMES) proposes to establish a two-week residential program designed to increase the participation and retention of historically underserved and underrepresented high school students in STEM. Learning activities are aligned to NASA’s themes of space exploration, aeronautics, and Earth science. Students will have the opportunity to visit NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. UMES partnered with NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility for mentoring, job shadowing, and involvement in real-life STEM projects, research, and activities. UMES was awarded $425,000 for its proposal.
University of The Virgin Islands, Charlotte Amalie
The NASA-UVI Pre-College Engineering Summer Institute
The focus of this proposal is to enroll a minimum of 20 students from the public high schools on St. Thomas and St. Croix in a one-week summer residential experience on-campus at the University of the Virgin Islands (UVI). Students will be exposed to the fundamentals of scientific and engineering methods, engage in discussions about career paths, develop relationships with STEM professionals in the U.S. Virgin Islands and NASA, and engage in professional development activities designed to help them prepare for a successful transition to college. UVI was awarded $424,998 for its proposal.
Administered by NASA’s Office of STEM Engagement, MUREP supports and invests in the research, academic, and technology capabilities of minority-serving institutions. Learn more:
Navigating Change: Paradise Valley Unified School Board Votes to Close Three Schools Amid Declining Enrollment
In a tough decision, Paradise Valley Unified School Board voted to close 3 schools due to declining enrollment, sparking community concerns.
In a recent decision that has stirred emotions and raised concerns within the Paradise Valley community, the Paradise Valley Unified School Board has voted to close three schools due to declining enrollment. Sunset Canyon Elementary, Desert Springs Prep Elementary, and Vista Verde Middle School are the institutions that will be affected by this move, with the closures set to take effect on July 1, 2024.
The board members involved in this difficult decision emphasized the necessity of being fiscally responsible in the face of dwindling student numbers. Despite acknowledging the emotional weight of this choice, their primary focus remained on the financial sustainability of the district. As board member Tony Pantera succinctly put it, “In the end, they’re buildings. Some people say, ‘Well it’s not a building.’ It’s just a building.”
However, the response from the audience highlighted a deeper sentiment among community members. Their outcry, expressing that these schools represent more than just physical structures, underscored the vital role these educational institutions play in fostering a sense of community and belonging. As one can imagine, the decision to close these schools will have far-reaching effects beyond the mere physical closure of buildings.
While Pantera’s assertion that “the community can exist anywhere” may hold some truth, the emotional bond and shared experiences nurtured within these school environments are irreplaceable. The impact of these closures extends beyond mere logistics, touching the hearts of students, parents, teachers, and residents who have built their lives around these educational hubs.
As the Paradise Valley Unified School District navigates this period of change and transition, it is essential for all stakeholders to come together to support one another and ensure that the well-being of the students remains at the forefront of all decisions. While change can be challenging, it also presents an opportunity for growth, adaptation, and the forging of new paths forward.
In the wake of this decision, it is crucial for the community to unite, reflect on the values that these schools have instilled, and work towards creating a positive and supportive environment for all students, regardless of the changes that lie ahead. By coming together with empathy, understanding, and a shared commitment to education, the Paradise Valley community can emerge stronger and more resilient from this period of transition.
Source: KTAR News
Honoring Legacy: ARAC Scholarship Programs for College-Bound Seniors
“ARAC honors Tuskegee Airmen with scholarships for STEM and African American high school seniors. Apply by May 1 and May 31. Contact for details.”
The Archer-Ragsdale Arizona Chapter (ARAC), paying tribute to Tuskegee Airmen, is accepting applications for two scholarships. The William A. Campbell Memorial Scholarship, named after Col. Campbell, offers up to two $1,500 scholarships to STEM-bound high school seniors. Applicants must have a minimum 2.7 GPA and submit a 500-word essay by May 31.
The Ashby-Herring Scholarship, named after original Tuskegee Airmen, awards two $1,500 scholarships to African American high school seniors with a GPA of 3.0 or higher and financial need. The deadline for the Ashby-Herring Scholarship is May 1.
Diana Gregory, ARAC Scholarship Committee coordinator, expressed pride in facilitating higher education through these scholarships, encouraging eligible seniors to apply promptly. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org for the William A. Campbell Memorial Scholarship and email@example.com for the Ashby-Herring Scholarship.
Know as They Grow: How birth defects affect each stage of life
(Family Features) Birth defects, structural changes that affect one or more parts of the body, are the leading cause of infant mortality. A baby is born with a birth defect every 4.5 minutes, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC).
Birth defects most often develop during the first three months of pregnancy, when a baby’s organs are forming. Not only can they affect mortality, but they can also cause problems for a baby’s overall health and how the body develops and functions. Common birth defects include congenital heart defects, cleft lip, cleft palate and spina bifida.
Genetics, behaviors and social and environmental factors can impact the risk for birth defects, and not all birth defects can be prevented. To help improve the lives of people living with birth defects, consider this information from the experts at March of Dimes, who aim to provide knowledge about what birth defects are, how to prevent them and their impact across all stages of life.
Although not all birth defects can be prevented, people can increase their chances of having a healthy baby by managing health conditions and adopting healthy behaviors before becoming pregnant.
When planning a pregnancy, see a health care professional and start prenatal care as soon as possible. Talk about taking any medications you’re currently taking (or might need during the pregnancy), including vitamins. Most doctors recommend women take 400 micrograms of folic acid every day before and during pregnancy to help prevent birth defects.
Also discuss vaccinations (including COVID-19, since pregnant women are at elevated risk for severe COVID-19 illness) and other medical concerns, such as how to manage diabetes. Avoid overheating and treat fevers and infections promptly. Avoid alcohol, smoking cigarettes and marijuana or other drugs during pregnancy.
If your baby is diagnosed with a birth defect during pregnancy, or born with a birth defect or other health condition, he or she may need special care to aid growth and development. Many children with birth defects lead long and happy lives. However, birth defects remain critical conditions that can cause lifelong challenges.
Advancements such as improved newborn screening and early detection of birth defects can help pinpoint potential problems and ensure the baby begins receiving supportive care for better survival rates and quality of life. Examples include newborn screenings for critical congenital heart defects and monitoring bladder and kidney function in infants and children with spina bifida.
Meeting the complex needs of a person with birth defects involves the whole family and can be challenging at times. Finding resources, knowing what to expect and planning for the future can help. Early intervention services and support include special education, speech therapy and physical therapy. These can have a significant impact on a child’s ability to learn new skills, overcome challenges and increase success in school and life.
Some babies born with birth defects may also have physical and intellectual disabilities. The exact ages of developmental milestones are different for each child. Families, educators and health care providers can work together to set meaningful goals and create a plan to help children living with birth defects reach their full potential.
Adolescents and young adults living with birth defects may face unique challenges as they transition from childhood to adulthood. They may need to navigate changes in insurance and transition from a familiar pediatric specialist to a new adult doctor. It’s important for people with birth defects and their families to begin planning for this transition during childhood so they can lead healthy, independent lives as adults.
Other areas of focus might include medications, surgeries and other procedures; mental health; social development and relationships within and outside the family; physical activity; and independence.
With every pregnancy, a woman starts out with a 3% chance of having a baby with a birth defect, regardless of underlying health conditions or lifestyle factors, according to the CDC.
Many women with birth defects and other health conditions have healthy, uneventful pregnancies. However, women with birth defects may be more likely to have a baby with a birth defect. People living with birth defects should talk with their health care providers before becoming pregnant about how a pregnancy might affect them and their baby.
Having someone in your family with a birth defect also increases your chances of having a baby with a birth defect. To learn more about your genetic risk of having a baby with a birth defect, talk with a clinical geneticist or a genetic counselor.
Learn more about birth defects by following #EveryJourneyMatters and #BirthDefects on social media and visiting marchofdimes.org/birthdefects.
Tips to Prevent Birth Defects
Not all birth defects can be prevented, but you can help reduce the risk and increase your chances of having a healthy baby by following these steps.
- Get a preconception checkup before you start trying to get pregnant.
- Ensure your vaccinations are up to date. Some vaccinations protect you from infections that can cause birth defects and updating certain vaccinations may mean you need to wait before trying to become pregnant.
- Take a vitamin supplement that includes 400 micrograms of folic acid every day.
- Learn about your family health history. If you, your partner, your children or someone in your families has a birth defect, you may want to see a genetic counselor to learn more about your risk.
- Work with your health care provider to manage chronic health conditions, such as diabetes.
- Talk to your health care provider about medicines you take, including any prescriptions, over-the-counter medicines, supplements and herbal products. Certain medicines may increase your baby’s risk of a birth defect.
- Reach a healthy weight. Being obese can increase your baby’s chances of having birth defects like neural tube defects, heart defects and cleft palate.
Photos courtesy of Shutterstock
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