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Press Release

Monday, May 21, 2012

DOE Press Office
(850) 245-0413

Florida Department of Education Recognizes Winner of State of Florida Student Astronaut Challenge

- High school students applauded for STEM-focused experiments -

Tallahassee- The Florida Department of Education (DOE) in partnership with Walt Disney World Resort, Florida State University Schools, Coaxis International and the Challenger Learning Center today announced the Pompano Beach High School team as winner of the first-ever State of Florida Student Astronaut Challenge. On May 19, high school students from across Florida contended for first place at the Challenger Learning Center in Tallahassee. Eight five-person student teams were selected to compete based on their submission of a scientific proposal for a zero gravity experiment that could be conducted on the International Space Station. Using a Mobile NASA Space Shuttle Flight simulator developed and constructed by Florida State University Lab School, student teams demonstrated their knowledge and skills in the area of aerospace science. Teams from South Plantation High School and University High School placed second and third, respectively.

"Encouraging our children to focus on STEM has never been more important as we prepare them to compete in a global economy," said Education Commissioner Gerard Robinson. "I would like to offer hearty congratulations to the Pompano Beach High School team on winning the first annual State of Florida Astronaut Challenge. This is an outstanding accomplishment and I am extremely proud of our student contenders."

The "Enterprise" Space Shuttle Flight simulator used in the Astronaut Challenge was constructed as a mobile instructional tool to demonstrate real world application of science. The development of the simulator operating system was designed to engage students by immersing them in the experience of space shuttle flight. Each team that participated in the competition was evaluated on their understanding of space shuttle operations, engineering, the presentation and demonstration of an original zero gravity experiment, and the pre-flight operation, launch, orbit and landing of the Space Shuttle "Enterprise" flight simulator.

The eight teams of the Astronaut Challenge will be awarded a day at the Walt Disney World Resort. During their visit, the participants will take part in the Disney Youth Education Series program, The Science of Disney Imagineering: The Experience. On this guided, in-park, academic adventure, students will learn about the Walt Disney Imagineering creative process. Through teamwork, observation and problem-solving activities, as well as a media presentation, students will discover how a team of over 140 disciplines including writers, artists, engineers, sculptors, programmers, special effects designers and architects collaborate to create immersive Disney Theme Park experiences. The Grand Prize winning team will also have the unique opportunity to join a Disney Imagineer for lunch, during which they are invited ask questions about what they've learned and discuss how their talents may be transferred to an exciting career such as one in Disney Imagineering.

For more information about the State of Florida Student Astronaut Challenge, visit http://www.fldoe.org/JustForTeachers/.