Merritt Island High School Students Get First-hand Look at Space Launch

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (September 18, 2013) – Nine students from Merritt Island High School in Merritt Island, Fla., witnessed history Wednesday at the launch of a major U.S. military satellite, the Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) 3. The students are part of their high school’s Project Lead The Way (PLTW) engineering program. PLTW is the nation’s leading provider of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education programs for middle and high schools. The hands-on, project-based engineering and biomedical sciences courses give students an opportunity to study topics like robotics, digital electronics, and aerospace engineering, while strengthening their critical thinking, problem solving, and communication skills.

The nine students took part in a three-day event sponsored by Lockheed Martin. It began with a school assembly for approximately 70 of their fellow classmates and ended with the group witnessing the history of the AEHF-3 launch. Today’s launch gave the students, all enrolled in the Aerospace Engineering course, the chance to put their classroom-based learning into real-life context.

“This was, to say the least, an extraordinary opportunity for the students at Merritt Island High School,” said Dr. Vince Bertram, PLTW President and CEO. “Not only did they witness history today, but more importantly, they experienced how their studies in science, technology, engineering, and math come together in the ‘real world’ of aerospace engineering. This was not, however, a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ opportunity for these students; because, I am convinced, at least one of these students will be part of a future team of critical thinkers and problem solvers who launch the next wave of important technology into the world."

“PLTW is grateful to have such an incredible partner in Lockheed Martin, for sharing this event with our students and making an indelible imprint on their outlook for the future.”

During the assembly, students and teachers heard from AEHF program leaders, as well as a panel of engineers who discussed the history and background of the mission. The nine students were then announced and given an AEHF-3 launch coin. On the second day of the launch event, the students and other VIP guests, including Bertram, attended a pre-launch briefing and photo op at the launch pad.

“At Lockheed Martin, we are proud to support Project Lead The Way as it looks to inspire and educate the next generation of young scientists and engineers,” said Emily Simone, Lockheed Martin director, Community Relations. “This project is extremely special to us as it combines not only our passion for STEM education, but also one of our programs, the AEHF satellite. It’s a great opportunity to show kids exciting, real world technology in action.”

The AEHF 3 satellite is the third in a series of six satellites that Lockheed Martin is delivering for the U.S. Air Force. Thesystem provides vastly improved, highly secure, protected communications for the executive branch of government and tactical warfighters operating on ground, sea and air platforms. The system also serves international partners including Canada, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

Students selected to participate in the launch received a launch coin as a memento.

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About PLTW Project Lead The Way (PLTW) is the leading provider of rigorous and innovative STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education curricular programs used in schools. As a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, PLTW exists to prepare students for the global economy through its world-class curriculum, high-quality professional development, and an engaged network of educators, students, universities and professionals. PLTW's comprehensive curriculum has been collaboratively designed by PLTW teachers, university educators, engineering and biomedical professionals, and school administrators to promote critical thinking, creativity, innovation and real-world problem solving skills in students. The hands-on, project-based program engages students on multiple levels, exposes them to areas of study that they typically do not pursue, and provides them with a foundation and proven path to college and career success. More than 5,200 schools in all 50 states and the District of Columbia are currently offering PLTW courses to their students. For more information, visit www.pltw.org.