|Contact:||Cathy Abeita, (505) 346-7712 or
Horton Newsom, (505) 277-0375 or
Steve Carr, (505) 277-1821
December 14, 2000
STARS ON EARTH PROGRAM RECEIVES THREE-YEAR GRANT TO PROVIDE RESEARCH EXPERIENCE TO HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS
In conjunction with the Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute (SIPI),
the University of New Mexico has received a three-year, $402,000 grant from
NASA for a new program titled Stars on Earth. The program provides under-represented
high school students with research experience in space science and technology-based
academic preparation in math, science, engineering and technology (MSET). SIPI
college students will also benefit from the establishment of new course in Earth
and Planetary Science, and the opportunity to be involved in related research
The coordinator of special programs at SIPI, Cathy Abeita, is the principal
investigator for the Stars on Earth program and will work with UNM research
professor Dr. Horton Newsom of the Institute of Meteoritics and the Department
of Earth and Planetary Sciences.
The NASA program is one of several student outreach programs at SIPI,
says SIPI president Carolyn Elgin. The program is designed to support
high school students in preparing for math, science, engineering and technology
programs in college through research experiences in space science and technology-based
The centerpiece of the Stars on Earth program is a six-week residential experience
at SIPI, which will include a research experience component that will impact
both the high school students and the SIPI faculty and students involved in
the outreach program through special training at the Institute of Meteoritics
(IOM) at UNM.
The research activity focuses on the establishment of a Meteorite Identification
Laboratory, which will be housed in SIPIs soon-to-be-reality 60,000 square
foot Advanced Technical Education Applications Building. The building will serve
as a teaching and research laboratory for the NASA program and ensures that
American Indian students who select science, mathematics, and engineering fields
will have access to a state-of-the-art facility and equipment at SIPI in collaboration
with the IOM.
Identifying meteorites requires a basic understanding of meteorite properties
and the ability to conduct a logical investigation using basic geological equipment.
In suspicious cases or samples, advanced analysis will be conducted at UNM using
a scanning electron microscope with the assistance of SIPI students.
Students who participate in the summer program will have an opportunity
to live on a college campus and discover firsthand what it is like to attend
college, Abeita says. The students find out that college can be
a reality for them. We are very pleased to be working with Dr. Newsom and UNMs
Institute of Meteoritics on this project.
In addition to the programs for students, activities for the students
high school teachers and parents will provide a source of support and reinforcement
for choosing a technical career path. The Stars on Earth program builds on successful
outreach programs at each institution.
The Stars on Earth program will encourage large numbers of students,
especially Native American students, to pursue technical careers in fields of
Earth, Environmental, and Planetary Sciences, said Newsom. I am
excited that students who participate in this opportunity will obtain training
that can benefit NASA and the students communities.
Abeita, who has a masters in education with a focus in science education
and curriculum development from UNM, has extensive experience in the implementation
of mathematics and sciences programs, recruitment and selection of program participants,
academic instructors, residential staff, program evaluation, follow-up and data/tracking
Newsom brings experience in research about the origin of the Earth and Moon
and impact cratering processes on Earth and Mars. He has participated in numerous
outreach programs, including a $300,000 grant from NASAs PACE program
which began in 1998 as an outreach program to middle school students.
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of New Mexico
Public Affairs Department
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Telephone: (505) 277-5813
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