More than 80 students from Pescadero Middle School launched model rockets today as part of a new school-wide Rocketry Education Program. The program, designed to build enthusiasm for science, technology, engineering and math, originated from a teacher’s summer fellowship at Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) through the Bay Area-based Industry Initiatives for Science and Math Education (IISME).

Chip Harrison, a teacher at Pescadero Middle School, was one of 20 elementary school, middle school, and high school teachers who participated in IISME’s fellowship program last year at Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Sunnyvale, Calif. The IISME organization works to foster a strong, highly skilled workforce in science, technology, engineering and math.

Based on his experience at Lockheed Martin, Harrison initiated a rocketry education program that combines research, experiments, fieldtrips, real-world applications, and actual rocket model development. To fully engage the students and staff, the program also integrates other aspects of the school’s curriculum, including elements of the Science, English, History, and Math disciplines.

“It is encouraging to see the excitement that the students have for the science and technology behind this new rocketry program,” Harrison said. “Their interest has made the program tremendously successful, but this is only the beginning. My time in the Lockheed Martin-IISME program had such a positive impact on my teaching career, but more importantly, on my students’ future.”

IISME’s Summer Fellowship Program places qualified teachers into local companies and research labs for an eight-week learning experience. During this period, each teacher, paired with an industry mentor, augments their science, math, and engineering skills by solving real-world problems. Upon returning to the classroom, application of the industry experience helps teachers stimulate student interest in math and science and, in turn, helps students to become lifelong learners.

“Mr. Harrison’s rocket launch project is exactly the kind of project that Summer Fellowships in companies like Lockheed Martin can inspire,” said Jennifer Bruckner, IISME’s executive director. “Something this fun will surely motivate his students to consider careers in science, math and engineering, and we are proud to be a part of the effort.”

The Pescadero Middle School eighth graders launched their model rockets today, under the watchful eye of the sixth and seventh graders, who contributed to the program through research on the history and technology behind the U.S. rocket program. The eighth grade students focused on the design and development of the model rockets.

Harrison organized, educated, and coached the student rocket team with the help of David Raimondi, a Lockheed Martin employee and IISME volunteer. Harrison and Raimondi hope this year’s event will be a launching point for next year’s national Team America Rocketry Challenge, in which the winning team will be awarded $60,000 in college scholarships. The annual competition is sponsored by the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) and the National Association of Rocketry, with co-sponsorship by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Department of Defense, the American Association of Physics Teachers and 34 AIA member companies, including Lockheed Martin.

“Through our IISME partnership we are helping great teachers, like Chip, better prepare students to be productive in an increasingly technical world,” said Kevin Bilger, Lockheed Martin vice president and general manager and member of the IISME Senior Advisory Council. “It is extremely gratifying to see our efforts inspiring young students and making a real life impact. This program is a true testament to the efforts put forth by teachers, Lockheed Martin, and IISME.”

IISME was founded in 1985 by a consortium of San Francisco Bay Area companies including Lockheed Martin, in partnership with the Lawrence Hall of Science at the University of California at Berkeley and seeks to transform teaching and learning through industry-education partnerships.

Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin is a global security company that employs about 146,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. The corporation reported 2008 sales of $42.7 billion.

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