Funds will help Title I schools attend Challenger space missions.
By Dillon Holloway
The Scobee Education Center has been awarded two grants totaling $29,500, Natasha Sobers, coordinator of program development, said Nov. 29 in an interview.
Scobee received $25,000 from the Harvey Najim Foundation, and $4,500 from the Alamo Chapter of the Armed Forces Communication and Electronics Association, known as AFCEA.
Scobee is divided into two sections, the education center and a planetarium, with Challenger missions taking place in the education center.
Sobers said the grants will be used to give students in Title I schools an opportunity to attend Challenger missions at Scobee, interactive experiences that simulate various missions in space.
The missions encourage children to participate in various team-building excercises and fall under the STEM umbrella. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math.
Title I schools are public schools which have a large percentage of students who come from low-income families, according to the U.S. Department of Education’s website, www.ed.gov.
Students who attend Title I schools also receive government assistance for lunches.
Some $500 of the AFCEA grant will go to an individual teacher to produce a project, Sobers said.
“They also gave $500 for a teacher to win funds toward a really neat project that they are either already working on and want to enhance or will be working on in the spring of 2018 or fall 2018,” she said.
Sobers said Scobee is creating an application process for teachers to apply for this award.
The application deadline will be March 23, and the winning teacher will be announced April 6.
All teachers of kindergarten through eighth grade in public schools are encouraged to apply.
Scobee is looking for a teacher who has innovative ideas that integrate technology.
“The main thing is how they are going to integrate technology into that project,” she said. “We want to see something that may be able to be replicated again with that teacher or in that school.”
Sobers said Scobee wants teachers to design a project that is both creative and engaging to children.
The winning teacher will present the project and results at the Out in Space Conference March 3 in Scobee.
This is the second time Scobee has received a grant from the Harvey Najim Foundation. Scobee was awarded $25,000 for 2015-16.
Sobers said the Harvey Najim foundation is rigorous in the selection process of awarding the grant.
“It’s a very unique position that we have here,” she said. “It’s not something that you can experience anywhere else, and I think that’s what the attractive part of it is.”
After the initial application process, grant officers were invited to attend Challenger missions at Scobee to see children in action, Sobers said.
“They want to make sure that we are able to sustain the program, even if for some reason in the next 10 years we never get another grant again,” Sobers said. “They want to know that we are actively seeking out other funding sources … and other ways to make sure that our programs are sustainable and able to grow.”
Since the center’s original grant award in 2015, two new Challenger missions have been added.
For Scobee, grants such as the Harvey Najim Foundation and AFCEA will go a long way toward helping children experience science in new ways.
“What this money means is being able to bring what’s being taught in the textbooks, and bring it to life to students who may not ever otherwise be able to experience something like that,” she said.
Scobee has the only planetarium in San Antonio.
Teachers interested in reserving a Challenger mission for their class may go to www.scobee.org for more information.