JSU Newswire
Jacksonville, Alabama

$1.8 Million NASA Grant Establishes
von Braun Scholars Program

von Braun
Dr. Wernher Von Braun

JACKSONVILLE -- September 24, 2002 -- A $1.8 million NASA grant will establish the von Braun Scholars (VBS) program at Jacksonville State University to motivate greater interest in math and science among public school students.

Success of the program could lead to a national VBS program available to K through 12 students across the United States.

VBS consists of a series of programs offering projects thematically based upon Dr. Wernher von Braun's revolutionary visions for the development of space, his strong commitment to math and science education, and his contributions to the arts and sciences.

The collaborative program will be conducted by JSU and two NASA offices on campus, the Aerospace Teachers' Association (ATA) and the Aerospace Development Center (ADA).

Mr. Tim Huddleston, director of the ATA and ADA centers, said the mission of the von Braun Scholars program is "to advance academic excellence by inspiring student learning, supporting innovative educators, enriching the education experience, and providing students with exciting and enhanced career path opportunities."

The $1,843,000 NASA grant will fund a four-part program series: Aerospace Certification for Educators (ACE), Gaining Excellence through Aerospace Resources (GEAR), StarQuest and FlightQuest. ACE and GEAR are educator support programs while StarQuest and FlightQuest are student programs.

Huddleston said the grant will fund the von Braun Observer's Project, in which students will have access to a radio telescope via the Internet. The observatory, currently being constructed and operated by JSU, will house a 14.45-inch telescope. The new observatory is being constructed on Chimney Peak in Jacksonville on land owned by the University.

Another feature of the program is the Mars Project, an Internet-based program designed to motivate high school science students by challenging them to design a workable and practical manned mission to Mars. The students will define mission objectives, determine the duration, flight path, vehicle design, landing site, crew size, qualifications, assignments and other details of the "mission."

Also planned is an AstroBowl competition patterned after the Scholars Bowl, in which teams of students will compete to test their knowledge of aviation and spaceflight.

Wernher Von Braun was one of the world's first and foremost rocket engineers and a leading authority on space travel. Living in Huntsville, Alabama from 1950 to 1970, Dr. von Braun first directed the technical development of the U.S. Army's ballistic missile program at Redstone Arsenal, and later served as Director of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center. When he transferred to Washington, D.C., he left Huntsville with a rich legacy: the research institutions at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, the Alabama Space and Rocket Center, and the Von Braun Civic Center.

For more information about the von Braun Scholars program, contact the Aerospace Education Center at JSU at 256-782-5972.


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