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NMC students to participate in NASA education program (May 17, 2017)

(NMC) — Northern Marianas College School of Education’s Teacher Preparatory Program was recently selected to participate in the National Aeronautics Space Administration’s Minority University Research Education Project or MUREP.

This is the third year MUREP’s Office of Education has offered a summer program to help ensure that NASA can meet future workforce needs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics or STEM by strengthening involvement with higher education institutions to include participation of underrepresented and underserved students.

The NMC students who will be participating in the program include Myron Mendoza (Elementary Education concentration), Edinna Cepeda (Elementary Education concentration), Jason Atrero (Special Education concentration) and Mele’Ani Cepeda (Elementary Education concentration). Their NASA team advisor is NMC School of Education’s instructor Rosaline Cepeda.

“We are extremely proud that NMC was selected to be part of this prestigious NASA program,” said NMC President Dr. Carmen Fernandez. “I also look forward to our students’ participation as they expand their STEM training with NASA scientists and other students from around the country.”

In a Skype conference that included NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory Summer Program facilitators Dr. Ota Lutz, NASA Senior Education Specialist for Elementary and Secondary Education; Dr. Lyle Tavernier, NASA Education Technological Specialist; Dr. David Seidel, JPL Executive Educational Director; Northern Marianas College SOE Instructor Rosaline Cepeda and NMC SOE Director Charlotte Cepeda, it was known that NMC-SOE’s NASA team will be the first representatives from a far-western Pacific location.

Discussions during the conference also included background information on the CNMI to prepare culturally sensitive experiences and the School of Education’s Teacher Preparatory Program. They also discussed climate change and its effects in the CNMI, coral bleaching, fresh water supply and needs, as well as the identification of possible topics to allow for meaningful connections to enhance readiness for future STEM teachers.

The four selected NMC students, who are also now NASA team members, have been working with their advisor since January in pre-institute organizational meetings and have earned virtual badges for successful completion of online team challenges. Each of the participants will have full access to NASA approved STEM lessons and will develop instructional practices utilizing NASA assets and resources through well planned experiential learning approaches as future teachers.

NASA will provide participants with $500 stipends, meals, room and board for a five-day summer program at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California where they will engage in collaborative, experiential learning with NASA scientists and participants from other teacher preparatory programs across the United States. The summer program is scheduled from June 26 to 30, 2017.

“We hope that this will be the beginning of a long relationship,” stated Dr. Ota Lutz.

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