During the last three years, the L3Harris Foundation has provided grants to the Space Foundation to support its Space in the Community program which brings foundation educators and astronauts to local schools to teach students and teachers about various science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) topics.
The program aligns with the L3Harris Foundation mission to provide philanthropic and volunteer support to organizations providing STEM education; support to veterans, military and first responders; and benefit the communities where our employees live and work.
Because of the pandemic, Space Foundation and L3Harris sought new ways to reach and engage students and teachers. Using digital, virtual and multimedia tools, Space Foundation and L3Harris have brought new creativity and energy to inspiring the next generation of STEM talent.
“This virtual spin on our long-running Space in the Community program allows our education team to reach a wider audience of students, educators and community members with our STEM-related content,” said Leanne Rehme, Space Foundation space education specialist. “Through our interviews with L3Harris engineers, lesson plan tutorials and virtual Audience with an Astronaut sessions, we hope to inspire viewers’ interests in space and STEM.
Seven L3Harris Space and Airborne Systems engineers are featured in individual video segments speaking with a Space Foundation educator about their careers. After the interviews, another Space Foundation educator teaches a lesson focused on various topics like thermal imaging, opto-mechanics, how satellites see, human coding and 3D design in aerospace. There are also downloadable lesson plans for additional learning.
“I feel that early introduction, much like any developmental skill, to STEM helps promote problem solving and critical thinking,” said Carolyn Cossavella, a senior engineering director in Colorado Springs, Colorado. “The new online STEM program is a great way to engage an eager population of students and bring fundamentals to the forefront. Educators play such an important role in feeding their students’ creativity. I hope that in some small way I was able to reach one person out there who aligned to my passion, or saw themselves in me, and was inspired to shape their future in a STEM field.”