Boston — Jan. 21, 2016 — The Virtual High School (VHS Inc.) has partnered with the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), a nonprofit charged with managing the International Space Station U.S. National Laboratory, to provide theFlorida Alliance of Boys and Girls Clubswith an after-school version of the popular Space Station Academy course. CASIS has supplied the initial funding to enable 480 Club members in upper elementary and middle school grades to enroll in the course, which takes students on a simulated mission to the International Space Station (ISS). Club members throughout Florida will take the four-week program at different points in the year.
Typically offered during school hours or for independent study at home, Space Station Academy was developed by VHS in collaboration with astronauts, scientists, and educators at the Association of Space Explorers and the Technical Education Research Center (TERC). The course treats students as cadets in training for their first flight to space. They undergo pre-flight training as well as a realistic simulation of a launch and complete a mission on the ISS. Since the missions focus on Earth observation and photography, cadets see views of the Earth from the ISS windows, work with the same mapping and targeting software as the ISS astronauts, and explore hundreds of dramatic photos taken by astronauts who have been aboard the ISS.
In addition to providing online instructors and training on-site mentors from the participating Boys and Girls Clubs, VHS has enhanced the Space Station Academy program to include guidelines for blended instruction and on-site group activities. The on-site mentors recruit and enroll Boys and Girls Club members, monitor those cadets and provide face-to-face assistance with activities. Throughout the program, students hone and expand their STEM skills by using mathematics and computational thinking, analyzing and interpreting data, planning and carrying out investigations, using evidence in arguments and much more — all in the context of a realistic, virtual mission to space.
The first group, consisting of 131 students from Central Florida Boys and Girls Clubs, Suncoast Boys and Girls Clubs, Hernando County Boys and Girls Clubs, and the Genesis Center, is currently taking the course. Additional student contingents will take the course in April, June, and September 2016.
“Our mission aligns with that of the Boys and Girls Club – to help young people prepare for the future and provide opportunities for career exploration and educational enhancement,” said Carol Ribeiro, President and CEO of VHS. “With this partnership, we’re able to share our amazing program with nearly 1,000 children at Boys and Girls Clubs in 2016, and in the process, we hope to spark an interest that drives them to consider a career in math, science, engineering or technology.”
About The Virtual High School Inc.
The Virtual High School (VHS Inc.) is an online learning pioneer. Since 1996, the nonprofit organization has set the standard for quality online education. VHS provides courses taught in global online classrooms for secondary school students and online professional development for educators. The organization also meets the unique educational needs of schools through custom course development and individualized course offerings. VHS design and delivery standards are the model used by the National Education Association in their recommended standards for online learning. The organization has won numerous awards, including the Stockholm Challenge Award for Global Excellence in Information Technology, and is a three-time winner of the United States Distance Learning Association’s (USDLA) award for Excellence in Programming and Excellence in Best Practices. For more information, visit www.TheVirtualHighSchool.org or call (978) 897-1900.
About Boys & Girls Clubs of America
For more than 100 years, Boys & Girls Clubs of America (GreatFutures.org) has enabled young people most in need to achieve great futures as productive, caring, responsible citizens. Today, more than 4,100 Clubs serve nearly 4 million young people annually through Club membership and community outreach. Clubs are located in cities, towns, public housing and on Native lands throughout the country, and serve military families in BGCA-affiliated Youth Centers on U.S. military installations worldwide. They provide a safe place, caring adult mentors, fun, friendship, and high-impact youth development programs on a daily basis during critical non-school hours. Priority programs emphasize academic success, good character and citizenship, and healthy lifestyles. In a Harris Survey of alumni, 54 percent said the Club saved their lives. National headquarters are located in Atlanta. Learn more at Facebook and Twitter.
The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) was selected by NASA in July 2011 to maximize use of the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory through 2020. CASIS is dedicated to supporting and accelerating innovations and new discoveries that will enhance the health and wellbeing of people and our planet. For more information, visit www.iss-casis.org.
About the ISS National Laboratory
In 2005, Congress designated the U.S. portion of the International Space Station as the nation's newest national laboratory to maximize its use for improving life on Earth, promoting collaboration among diverse users, and advancing STEM education. This unique laboratory environment is available for use by other U.S. government agencies and by academic and private institutions, providing access to the permanent microgravity setting, a vantage point in low Earth orbit, and varied environments of space.
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