RELEASE: 00-275

A new NASA instructional resource center will open its doors to Iowa
educators – as well as those in nearby Nebraska and South Dakota – Thursday,
Sept. 21, providing access to NASA expertise and educational materials in
science, math and technology.

Iowa’s new Educator Resource Center — at the Western Hills Area
Education Agency in Sioux City, Iowa — is the first to be located in a
regional educational service agency and not a university.

NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., selected
the agency through a competitive application process that resulted in a
two-year renewable agreement between NASA and the agency.

The new center will hold a reception and press conference at 1:30
p.m. CDT, followed by a dedication ceremony at 2 p.m.

“Our Educator Resource Centers, like this newest facility serving
Iowa and neighboring states, are part of NASA’s initiative to create a place
where teachers can experience and use NASA online resources, and receive
professional development credits at workshops,” said Alicia Beam,
pre-college officer of Marshall Center’s Education Department.

NASA’s national network of resource centers provides educators
access to materials such as lesson plans, videotapes, compact discs, audio
cassettes, reference books, activities for the classroom, posters and

Each Educator Resource Center is sponsored by a NASA facility under
a regional system.

The Marshall Center is responsible for centers in six states:
Alabama, Arkansas, Iowa, Louisiana, Missouri and Tennessee. On average,
each center serves 7,000 to 10,000 people each year and delivers 8,000 to
12,000 publications and other education items per year.

Western Hills — part of the Northwest Iowa Cooperative — has close
ties to Iowa’s public television network and the Iowa Department of
Education. The agency also provides video conferencing to more than 750
sites through the Iowa Communications Network.

“The staff at Western Hills is excited about becoming part of NASA’s
network for education resources,” said Jim Christensen, director of the new
resource center. “We see access to the excellent NASA materials and
training for teachers as a way to motivate students and to demonstrate the
relationship between what they learn in school and the world of science,
math, engineering and technology.”

All educators – from public and private school teachers to parents
who home-school their children – may use these NASA resources. For those
unable to visit the center in person, the Internet and Web-based technology
will make information easily available to educators and students throughout
Iowa and neighboring states.

As part of the opening celebration, several outstanding area math
and science students have been invited to participate in a live, virtual
tour of a mock-up of the International Space Station at the Johnson Space
Center in Houston. NASA exhibits, including a replica of a Space Shuttle,
will be on display for the event.

The Iowa Educator Resource Center is affiliated with NASA’s
Aerospace Education Services Program, which uses space agency assets to
support local, state and regional curriculums, as well as existing and
emerging national standards.

Among those representing NASA at the event will be Beam and Will
Robertson, both of Marshall Center’s Education Department.