Ricardo V. Soria- 2009 Alan Shepard Technology in Education Award Recipient
Ricardo V. Soria, assistant principal of Choctawahatchee High School in Fort Walton Beach, Fla., was named the 2009 recipient of the Alan Shepard Technology in Education Award. Given by the Astronauts Memorial Foundation (AMF), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the Space Foundation, the award was presented on March 30, 2009 during the Opening Ceremony of the 25th National Space Symposium at The Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Soria was selected for his role in creating the Engineers For America (EFA) program, an innovative elementary school initiative that promotes science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education through hands-on flight, aviation and aerospace activities. The program has two major components: a two-day "Teach the Teacher" workshop prepares teachers to use aviation-based resources and activities to integrate STEM into the classroom; and one-day "Reach the Student" events at the U.S. Air Force Armament Museum at nearby Elgin Air Force Base give students a unique opportunity to conduct experiments in an interesting and inspiring venue.
The students who participate use reading, writing, mathematics, science and spelling skills to solve aircraft-related problems. Aligned with Florida Department of Education standards, the classroom and on-site activities use research and data collection techniques based on NASA protocols combined with fun hands-on projects such as creating parachutes, testing balsa-wood airplanes against faninduced "headwinds," and using home-made galvanometers to measure magnetic fields.
Teachers and students love the program because it teaches the way children like to learn. Many teachers have noticed improvement in students' test scores and in their classroom performance as a result of their involvement in EFA.
"Rick targets both students and teachers by equipping teachers with strategies for making math and science relevant," Feldman added. "We are pleased to join NASA and the Space Foundation in giving the Alan Shepard Technology in Education Award to someone who is making a difference in such an exciting and creative way."