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Office of Vice President and
Chief of Staff
Florida Gulf Coast University
10501 FGCU Blvd S.
Fort Myers, FL. 33965-6565

Phone: (239) 590-1006
Fax:     (239) 590-1066

Press Release


Whitaker Center at FGCU Receives $1.9 Million for Space Education

FORT MYERS, FL - The Whitaker Center for Science, Mathematics and Technology Education invites the media to a Project LAUNCH demonstration and celebratory event Tuesday, May 3, 2005 at 9:30 a.m. in the FGCU Whitaker Hall Chemistry Laboratory Room 243.

The Whitaker Center for Science, Mathematics and Technology Education received three major grant awards totaling $1.945 million. The Florida Space Research Institute (FSRI) is a partner on all three Project LAUNCH awards from the Florida Department of Education - Mathematics and Sciences Partnership (MSP) professional development program.

The grant allows for the expansion of the FGCU highly successful Project LAUNCH into the Panhandle and the Northeast part of the state.
FGCU professors Diane Schmidt and Donna Henry co-direct Project LAUNCH, which utilizes 'space' as its overarching theme. Project LAUNCH is designed to increase teachers'content knowledge in science and mathematics aligned with Florida's Sunshine State Standards, while enhancing teaching using inquiry-based, hands-on instructional practices. A key asset of Project LAUNCH is continued support for teachers throughout the school year, through workshops, resources and classroom-based assistance provided by Aerospace Education Mentors.

Project LAUNCH II funds the continuation of the current project, providing an additional year of professional development support for 120 teachers in eight counties in Southwest Florida. The Whitaker Center and Embry-Riddle faculty will continue training in Space Science and Astrobiology throughout the 2005-2006 academic year.

In addition, funds will support the development and implementation of year three training in Geospatial Technology in the Southwest Florida region next summer. The second two awards, Projects Panhandle Area Educational Consortium ( PAEC) and North East Florida Educational Consortium ( NEFEC) LAUNCH will allow for the extension of the LAUNCH curricula to teachers in the entire northern portion of the state of Florida. These expansion grants will disseminate year one (Space Science) and year two (Astrobiology) training to 180 teachers in the Panhandle (PAEC) and in the North East (NEFEC).
President William C. Merwin will participate in the program and welcome special guests including Linda Taylor, member of the Florida State Board of Education; Ruth and Burtt Holmes of the Whitaker Foundation; and school superintendents from the five county service region. Media and guests will be treated to a hands-on Project LAUNCH crater activity.

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