The NASA Science Engineering Mathematics and Aerospace Academy, or SEMAA, is a national innovative project designed to increase participation and retention of historically underrepresented K-12 youth in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM. The goals of the NASA SEMAA project are to inspire a more diverse population of students to pursue careers in STEM; engage students, teachers and parents by incorporating emerging technologies into the project; and provide a challenging curriculum that meets state math, science and technology standards. SEMAA proactively addresses these goals by delivering a "hands-on, minds-on" curriculum, a state-of-the-art Aerospace Education Laboratory, and an innovative Family Café.
In just twelve years, SEMAA has emerged as a nationally renowned leader in the efforts to increase the participation of historically underserved K-12 youth in the areas of STEM. Established as a joint venture between NASA Glenn Research Center and Cuyahoga Community College, the project has grown from a single site to a national organization that is supported by Congress and dedicated to improving the academic success of children nationwide. Currently, SEMAA is located at community colleges, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, or HBCUs, Hispanic Serving Institutions, or HISs, Tribal Colleges and Universities, or TCUs, high schools, middle schools, elementary schools, and science centers/museums in 23 urban and rural cities throughout the United States. (See the list of NASA SEMAA institutions and locations below.) Historically, the growth of SEMAA has been supported by congressional representatives and NASA. The project has grown from one site in fiscal year 1993 to 23 operational sites in fiscal year 2004, serving over 84,000 students, parents, teachers and others.
To accomplish this level of success, communities must come together to establish partnerships. The partnerships provide the support and skills to impact the underrepresented students in many positive ways, thus ultimately contributing to the pool of talented scientists and researchers in STEM fields. The SEMAA activities are not intended to replace science and mathematics instruction in schools, but to provide support to schools by offering science and mathematics enrichment projects to encourage student interest and success in science, mathematics, engineering and technology.
In early 2003, NASA developed a set of criteria to evaluate each of its educational projects. The elements of the criteria are Customer Focus, Content, Pipeline, Diversity, Evaluation, and Partnerships and Sustainability. Based on these criteria, SEMAA was rated the number one educational project in NASA. To date, SEMAA has over 200 partnerships with community colleges, HBCUs, HSIs, TCUs, high schools, middle schools, elementary schools, science centers, museums, local businesses, major corporations, and other educational and non-educational entities. Each NASA SEMAA site is required to develop a Sustainability Plan to enhance local project operations, as well as to ensure project sustainability beyond NASA funding. Through these partnerships, the NASA SEMAA project continues to meet NASA's main education goal to inspire the next generation of explorers to pursue STEM-related careers.
For more information from the national NASA/SEMAA program including curriculum outcomes and other sites, please go to http://www.semaa.net.