SEATTLE, Jan. 25, 2013--On Feb. 2, underserved middle- and high school students from around Washington state will come to The Museum of Flight for a day of educational activities with aviation and aerospace professions, including astronaut Robert Curbeam, Jr. The event is funded by the Michael P. Anderson Memorial Aerospace Program, honoring the legacy of Washington-native Lt. Col Michael P. Anderson, who was one of seven astronauts who perished in the tragic last flight of the Space Shuttle Columbia in 2003. Media are invited to attend the events, which except for a 2 p.m. program in the Museum theater, are closed to the public.
Anderson was one of a handful of African American astronauts. He aspired to fly since he was a little boy; to explore the wonders of the universe. Anderson said his dreams came true through hard work, dedication and a commitment to achievement. As an astronaut he met countless students in Washington state and around the country, tirelessly reminding them to nurture the qualities that will make their dreams come true as well.
The Michael P. Anderson Memorial Aerospace Program
In 2007, Washington state community members teamed with business leaders to memorialize Anderson by creating two bronze statues-one in Spokane and one at the Museum.The project's sponsors included Boeing, Sterling Savings, Avista Utilities, Itron, Sacred Heart Medical, and Alaska Airlines. With the Museum's help, the Michael P. Anderson Scholarship Program began taking shape in 2008. It was designed to continue Anderson's legacy by providing underserved children of color the opportunity to take part in free, day-long activities at the Museum that promote science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines. Leaders at Alaska Airlines were so inspired by the program they established a id="mce_marker"00,000 match program which would match all donations to the fund. Avista Utilities also elected to continue its sponsorship of the MPA program.
Since 2009, hundreds of middle-and high school students from around Washington state have been mentored by many inspiring African American aerospace professions including Alaska Airlines pilots and military leaders. Michael P. Anderson Day, as it has come to be known, is always held on the first Saturday in February, Black History Month. MPA Day has allowed students to experience the Aviation Learning Center, Challenger Learning Center and meet some incredible people. In 2011, former astronaut and NASA Administrator Charles Bolden engaged with the MPA scholars, and in 2012 the students' guest was Dr. Bernard Harris, the first African American to walk in space. Each year the mentors are also featured in a panel discussion open to the public. This year's public program is at 2 p.m. on February 2, and features astronaut Robert Curbeam, Jr.
MPA Day is an especially heartfelt Museum education program. Museum staff work closely with the MPA project team to identify myriad ways in which the mission, aims, and goals of the event can be furthered, including program extensions/enhancements, new partnerships and collaborations. It is a concerted effort to weave the spirit of the program throughout the Museum's educational initiatives and to keep the dream alive.