- NASA and The University of Southern Mississippi have forged an agreement
that promises to establish a model at Stennis Space Center for education
and research in the field of early childhood learning.
will operate the Stennis child care center that serves children
of the space center's employees. This new association will offer
enhanced state-of-the-art teaching applications in an exciting,
educational and fun environment.
excited about this association with the university for our child
development program," said Dr. Dewey Herring, education officer
new agreement will provide a steady stream of ongoing research and
application that will be beneficial to the continuing enhancement
of the program here. The research aspect is important, and the university's
success record in administering two other child development programs
is encouraging for our operation."
component, once in place, will involve university faculty and graduate
students in developing effective instructional materials and activities
for young children.
educators coordinating the program are Dr. Sharon H. Walker and
Dr. Howard Walters from the university's J.L. Scott Marine Education
Center and Aquarium, and Dr. Wanda S. Maulding, division chair and
professor of education and psychology at Southern Miss Gulf Coast.
this program as offering a competitive edge for recruiting technical
personnel at Stennis," said Dr. Angeline Dvorak, Southern Miss
vice president of research and economic development. "Creating
a model program provides an excellent learning experience for Southern
Miss students who are focusing on the education of younger children."
that students will gain personal experience in a quality program
that supports children's development in a nurturing, safe and healthy
environment while delivering hands-on experiences built around themes
of space, oceans and earth science.
Scott Aquarium has for decades excelled in using the natural world
to whet youngsters' appetites for learning and exploring,"
Dvorak said. "The combination of the aquarium's national leadership
in science education and our education faculty's expertise creates
a research engine that fills a need on the coast and in the state.
It is a good fit with the Stennis Space Center's reputation for
excellent educational programs."
In prior years,
the center has operated a science summer day camp for about 40 children
ages 5 and older. Walters anticipates an increase in this summer's
camp participation. The camp will adopt a theme of "space,
camp will be expanded at an additional building that NASA has provided,"
Walters said. "The camp area is surrounded by pristine forest
and is just a short hike by trail to the Pearl River and the NASA
the official okay is in place to open the "space, oceans, earth
day" camp to children of non-Stennis parents this summer as
spots are available.
appointee to the Mississippi task force for pre-K education and
literacy, Walters spearheaded the university's proposal to Stennis.
He also chairs the state's Department of Health child care licensure
to early childhood learning is at a 'relatively emergent status'
in Mississippi as compared to historic efforts elsewhere,"
Walters said. "A model early childhood learning center with
a research component could serve as an agent for change and systemic
improvement for the state as a whole while providing valuable experiences
for children and their parents.
of space and oceans can motivate even the youngest children to develop
their natural openness for learning."