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Boys and Girls Clubs of America Awarded Spacecom STEM Award; Will Be Continuing The Virtual High School’s Space Academy Program Banner

Boys and Girls Clubs of America Awarded Spacecom STEM Award; Will Be Continuing The Virtual High School’s Space Academy Program

Award from Spacecom and the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space Provides Scholarship Funds for After-School Version of Popular Online STEM Course

For the second year, the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) and the Space Commerce Conference and Exposition (SpaceCom) have presented the Spacecom STEM Award to an organization in recognition of its efforts to inspire students toward STEM-related careers. The 2016 award recipient is the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, which will use the award to fund club member access to an after-school version of Space Station Academy, an online course offered through The Virtual High School (VHS, Inc.).

The context of the announcement itself emphasized the potential of STEM and space. During The Space Commerce Conference and Exposition (SpaceCom) on November 17th, astronaut Shane Kimbrough, located on the International Space Station, made a video introduction for CASIS President and Executive Director Gregory Johnson. Kimbrough explained how CASIS supports STEM initiatives that inspire new generations of scientists, pilots and adventurers as part of its mission of managing the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory. Afterward, Johnson announced the Boys and Girls Clubs of America as the award winner.

At NASA we continue to pave the path to the stars, but it’s our STEM advocates who will inspire the journey,” said Kimbrough, from the International Space Station.  “This year’s recipient of the SpaceCom STEM Award will be the Boys and Girls Clubs, to be put towards scholarships for students to attend Space Station Academy, an online course offered through the nonprofit, Virtual High School,” said Johnson.

Typically offered during school hours or for independent study at home, the Space Station Academy program was developed by VHS in collaboration with astronauts, scientists, and educators at the Association of Space Explorers and the Technical Education Research Center (TERC). The course treats students as cadets in training for their first flight to space. They undergo pre-flight training as well as a realistic simulation of a launch and complete a mission on the ISS with a focus on Earth observation and photography, cadets see views of the Earth from the ISS windows, work with the same mapping and targeting software as the ISS astronauts, and explore hundreds of dramatic photos taken by astronauts who have been aboard the ISS.

“The Space Station Academy sends students on a virtual mission to the International Space Station, to participate in in realistic training and on-orbit experiences, observe the Earth from Space, monitor experiments and experience the reality of life as an astronaut” said Johnson.

In early 2016, CASIS had supplied the initial funding to enable 131 Boys and Girls Club members in middle school and high school grades to enroll in the course, which takes students on a simulated mission to the International Space Station (ISS). Club members throughout Florida participated in the informal 10-module program at different points in the year.

“It’s been a privilege and a pleasure working with CASIS to bring our Space Station Academy course to student groups across the country,” said Carol Ribeiro, President and CEO of VHS. “We continue to enhance the course to ensure club members receive the optimal benefit from this after-school, flexible program, and we’ll continue to look for ways to make it even more beneficial in the future.”

About The Virtual High School

The Virtual High School (VHS Inc.) is an online learning pioneer. Since 1996, the nonprofit organization based in Massachusetts has set the standard for quality online education. VHS provides courses taught in global online classrooms for secondary school students and online professional development for educators.  The organization also meets the unique educational needs of schools through custom course development and individualized course offerings. VHS design and delivery standards are the model used by the National Education Association in their recommended standards for online learning. The organization has won numerous awards, including the Stockholm Challenge Award for Global Excellence in Information Technology, and is a three-time winner of the United States Distance Learning Association’s (USDLA) award for Excellence in Programming and Excellence in Best Practices. For more information, visit www.VHSLearning.org or call (978) 897-1900.


The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) was selected by NASA in July 2011 to maximize use of the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory through 2020. CASIS is dedicated to supporting and accelerating innovations and new discoveries that will enhance the health and wellbeing of people and our planet. For more information, visit www.iss-casis.org.

About SpaceCom

SpaceCom, the Space Commerce Conference and Exposition, is focused on the economic development of space and the application of space technologies across important industry sectors of the global economy. The event is produced in collaboration with NASA Johnson Space Center, Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau (GHCVB), Houston First Corporation, and National Trade Productions. For more information, visit www.spacecomexpo.com.

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