APL continues to serve the nation by tackling the critical challenge of inspiring and training the next generation of scientists and engineers. In 2014, the Laboratory’s science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education and outreach programs reached more than 5,000 students and community residents.
Prepared for Success
APL’s Student Program to Inspire, Relate & Enrich (ASPIRE) included 68 APL mentors guiding 94 high school juniors and seniors, all working on real Lab projects and most planning to study STEM subjects in college. Our College Prep Program—supporting academically talented students who have little or no exposure to the college application process—has “graduated” more than 120 students. Approximately 70 APL staff members gave 4,000 hours of volunteer time to support this program. More than 95 percent of program graduates are on track to earn a bachelor’s degree, and more than 10 program alumni have interned at APL in the ASPIRE program.
In the Classroom and After School
A group of 20 local middle and high school girls spent Tuesday afternoons at APL learning both the science and art of computer coding from APL staff members as part of the Girls Who Code program. Girls Who Code is part of a national organization that works to inspire, educate, and equip girls with the computing skills to pursue 21st-century opportunities, with the ultimate goal of reaching gender parity in computing fields. This year, APL is also partnering with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metropolitan Baltimore to offer an after-school math tutoring program to 18 middle school students. The program aims to increase the students’ proficiency in math using tactile and computer-based techniques. The group is meeting once each week for 10 weeks in the fall and 10 weeks in the spring.
More than 700 parents and students attended the annual Girl Power event—learning first-hand about opportunities for women in STEM fields. Other events like robotics competitions and the UNITE teachers workshop brought many more to the Lab.
APL also participated in the USA Science & Engineering Festival in Washington, DC. The event was attended by more than 200,000 K–12 students, parents, teachers, and STEM professionals. APL’s STEM representatives guided students through a demonstration of simple “prosthetic hands,” built using APL’s 3-D printers. Students also had the opportunity to interact with the Modular Prosthetic Limb from the APL-led Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Revolutionizing Prosthetics Program.
Nearly 200 parents attended the third annual STEMpowerment workshop, hearing from higher education institutions, nonprofit organizations, and industry and government representatives about STEM resources available to them and their students.
Maryland MESA Days Encourage STEM Success
APL’s Maryland Mathematics, Engineering, and Science Achievement (MESA) program is designed to prepare precollege students for academic and professional careers in STEM. Maryland MESA aims to increase the number of engineers, scientists, mathematicians, and related professionals and serves as a driving force in encouraging and assisting minorities and females in achieving success in these fields. The program provides services and programs to more than 2,500 students and 180 teachers from across central Maryland.
To the Moon
The Van Allen Probes and Solar Probe Plus space missions and CRISM instrument (in orbit around Mars) were the topics for this year’s Space Academy. Now in its 15th year, the Space Academy series, sponsored by APL and Discovery Education, takes Maryland middle school students behind the scenes of space missions and introduces them to the people who conduct some of NASA’s most exciting projects.