UTPA helps bring Northrop Grumman Foundation Weightless Flight of Discovery Program to McAllen; Program now accepting applications
Posted: 03/10/2010
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McAllen, Texas is one of six locations nationwide this year that will have an opportunity to participate in the Northrop Grumman Foundation Weightless Flight of Discovery program. This is only the second flight offered in Texas - the first was in Dallas - since the program began in 2006.

Middle school science and math teachers participating in a Northrop Grumman Foundation Weightless Flight of Discovery program in Chicago experience the zero gravity of space travel during their flight conducted in 2008. The flight is being brought to McAllen this year. The application deadline is March 26.

This unique teacher professional development program places current and future middle school educators on micro-gravity flights mimicking the temporary weightlessness of space travel where they conduct experiments and energize students' interest and enthusiasm for STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) studies and careers. The University of Texas-Pan American is partnering with Northrop Grumman to facilitate the program locally.

Middle-school math and science teachers in public schools and college students majoring in education who will be teaching middle school math and science are encouraged to apply for the program at A maximum of 30 teachers in each of the six cities will participate. Those selected are required to participate in a daylong workshop prior to their scheduled flight, which is approximately two hours long. In McAllen, the workshop is scheduled for April 10, 2010 at UTPA and the flight will be conducted April 30 out of the McCreery Airport in McAllen. The application deadline to apply for the McAllen flight is March 26.

"The Weightless Flights of Discovery program was launched with the goal of inspiring teachers, who would in turn inspire their students to pursue STEM education," said Sandra Evers-Manly, president of the Northrop Grumman Foundation. "This program has succeeded beyond our expectations and is now very much in demand. We're delighted that 180 more teachers will join the 1,120 teachers nationwide who have participated to date."

Other locations chosen for the 2010 flights are Gulfport, Mississippi; Memphis, Tennessee; Cincinnati, Ohio; Salt Lake City, Utah; and Honolulu, Hawaii.

"Northrop Grumman is a valued partner of UTPA and HESTEC in our joint efforts to promote education in science and technology in the Rio Grande Valley and South Texas. Bringing the Weightless Flights of Discovery program to the Valley provides yet another marvelous opportunity to offer a unique learning experience that will inspire and excite the Valley's teachers and students. We are looking forward to flight day and to hearing firsthand about the adventure," said UTPA President Robert S. Nelsen.

Northrop Grumman is partnering with the Zero Gravity Corporation to offer the Weightless Flights of Discovery program, one of several initiatives the Northrop Grumman Foundation sponsors to promote education and student interest in STEM fields.

In the three-week period following the workshops to prepare for the flight, teachers will work with their students to develop experiments to be conducted in environments that create lunar gravity, Martian gravity and weightlessness. Following the flight, teachers share their experience back in the classroom.

The program targets middle-school math and science teachers primarily because the United States is experiencing a shortage of college graduates in these disciplines, a development that bodes ill for the nation's industries that depend on talented scientists and mathematicians. Because studies have indicated most children make the decision to pursue math and science education and careers during middle school, Northrop Grumman developed the Weightless Flights of Discovery to engage teachers, key influencers in the lives of students during these crucial years.

To learn more about the Northrop Grumman Foundation Weightless Flights of Discovery, please visit