Eye On Boise

State lawmakers to help choose kids for new NASA program for Idaho students

Bright, advanced Idaho high school juniors can now compete to get into a new online science and math course offered in partnership with NASA - in part by impressing a local state legislator. Or, perhaps, just knowing one. "We would like to get state lawmakers involved in this, in endorsing students from their legislative district," said Idaho Department of Education spokeswoman Melissa McGrath. "Legislators would be involved in the review of applications and helping to select the students. ... they'd have a big role in choosing which student goes." You can read my full story here in today's Spokesman-Review.

State Superintendent of Schools Tom Luna joined astronaut Barbara Morgan, now a distinguished educator in residence at Boise State University, to announce the new program Thursday. It's modeled after a similar, award-winning program in Texas; there's also one in Virginia, making Idaho the third state to launch a "Science and Aerospace Scholars Program." Both Texas and Virginia also involve state lawmakers in "endorsing" kids for the program. McGrath said, "The goal is to get legislators involved in this program and more involved in their local school districts and the public education system, by seeing what students are doing, what their goals are, what they're working toward. ... Also, these students are representatives of Idaho when they go to the summer academy, so we think it's important to have our local elected officials involved."

Students who are successful in the rigorous online course, which is aligned to state education standards, could earn an expense-paid trip to a special NASA academy in California next summer. Click here for more info.

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