updated 10/12/2010 2:45:20 AM ET 2010-10-12T06:45:20

LOS ANGELES, Oct. 11, 2010 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Northrop Grumman (NYSE:NOC) Foundation sent 29 educators representing various school districts throughout Utah, Arizona, Colorado and Oklahoma into weightlessness today on the sixth and final stop of the 2010 Northrop Grumman Foundation Weightless Flights of Discovery program. The program, in its fifth year, provides educators with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to prepare for and participate in micro- and zero-gravity flights during which they test Newton's Laws of Motion with a variety of experiments their students helped create.

A photo accompanying this release is available at http://media.globenewswire.com/noc/mediagallery.html?pkgid=8149

Math and science teachers, including one married couple, took part in today's flight, with the goal of inspiring and preparing the next generation of scientists, mathematicians and engineers – critical areas where the U.S. has fallen behind globally. In all, 177 teachers from across the country participated in the 2010 program, with 53,000* students expected to be reached this year. The message: science is cool and fun, and that a career in the sciences is both rewarding and achievable.

Educators report program participation has positively impacted student interest in science and math. A recent survey of teachers who participated during the program's earlier years found that:

  • Nearly 92 percent of teachers noticed an increase in their students' interest level in science overall after sharing their experience. 
  • Teachers reported that approximately 83 percent of students who were previously disinterested in science and math became notably interested and/or engaged.  
  • According to more than 75 percent of teachers surveyed, students expressed an interest in continuing to study math and science in high school or college. 
  • According to more than 80 percent of teachers surveyed, students expressed their desire to one day pursue a career in a science or math related field.

"The Weightless Flights of Discovery program was launched with the goal of inspiring teachers, who would in turn inspire their students to pursue science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education," said Sandra Evers-Manly, president of the Northrop Grumman Foundation. "This program has succeeded beyond our expectations and is now very much in demand."

Northrop Grumman is partnering with the Zero Gravity Corporation to offer the Weightless Flights of Discovery program, one of several initiatives the Northrop Grumman Foundation sponsors to promote education and student interest in STEM fields.

The program targets middle school math and science teachers primarily because the United States is experiencing a shortage of college graduates in these disciplines, a development that bodes ill for the nation's industries that depend on talented scientists and mathematicians. Because studies have indicated most children make the decision to pursue math and science education and careers during middle school, Northrop Grumman developed the Weightless Flights of Discovery to engage teachers, key influencers in the lives of students during these crucial years.

"Our foundation's mission is to develop unique, sustainable and national-level programs to inspire interest in STEM subjects, and the Weightless Flights of Discovery initiative follows through on that commitment.

"Our nation's leaders, including President Obama through his 'Educate to Innovate' initiative, recognize the need to strengthen STEM education in the United States. We are committed to this mission and we have developed unique, sustainable and national-level programs that inspire interest in STEM subjects. The Northrop Grumman Foundation Weightless Flights of Discovery program, now in its fifth year, is very much aligned with this important national goal," said Evers-Manly.

To learn more about the Northrop Grumman Foundation Weightless Flights of Discovery, please visit www.northropgrumman.com/goweightless , or follow the progress of the teachers during their flights on Facebook ( http://www.facebook.com/GoWeightless ) and Twitter ( http://twitter.com/goweightless ).

The Northrop Grumman Foundation supports diverse and sustainable programs for students and teachers. These programs create innovative education experiences in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

* Based on the nationally accepted estimate in the industry, where middle and high school teachers typically teach 25 students in 6 different classes during each of two semesters per year.

© Copyright 2012, GlobeNewswire, Inc. All Rights Reserved


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