Local school picked by NASA

A local Maryland middle school was one of only 50 schools around the nation selected for the NASA Explorer Schools program, administrators said.

Eastern Middle School, in nearby Montgomery County, Md., was the first Maryland school selected for a program that intensely trains teachers and administrators in math, astronomy and other sciences.

"It's like boot camp for teachers," said Ellen Holmes, a NASA Education ambassador. Holmes described it as a great program to improve science education. "It has many benefits," Holmes said.

Elizabeth MacColl, a math and science interdisciplinary resource teacher, will fly to Orlando May 7 when the 50 winners will be announced nationally.

This summer, MacColl, three teachers and an administrator will start training with NASA. The program will continue for three years.

"I did meet someone whose school was in the program, and they were thrilled," MacColl said. "It gave their kids opportunities to go to locations and see authentic science happening. They were able to participate in video conferencing and Web casting."

Eastern Middle School is a magnet school for the humanities. Three hundred of its 900 students apply to the school to enjoy its focus on writing, media production and world studies.

According to MacColl, however, the administration felt it was weak on the sciences after poor performances on standardized tests. The school then applied to the Explorer Schools program to bolster its science offerings.

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