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.

The best way to improve the nation’s technological brain power is to grow our own engineers, mathematicians and scientists — and the best way to do that is to get children interested and educated at a young age. Rick Soria epitomizes the kind of educators we need to make that happen.
— Iain Probert, vice president, education, Space Foundation
This was an intense national competition with high-quality applicants from all sections of the country. Rick’s program is innovative, produces excellent results, and has the support of the school district, which is committed to seamless K-12 STEM education.
— Stephen Feldman, Ph.D., president, AMF

"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."


It is truly a pleasure to be recognized for what I would gladly do for nothing. The role teachers play in preparing the next generation of engineers, aero/astronauts and technical professionals is one most do with commitment and passion and little fanfare. Every once in awhile, a colleague or a former student shares a success that reminds you that you are on track. I am humbled that the AMF, NASA and the Space Foundation consider our EFA Initiative such a great contribution to K-12 STEM advancement. We do.
— Soria upon notification of his selection