New Underwriting Has Reduced SSEP Cost, and Small School District (or Single School Option) Now Significantly Enhanced

Impact of Underwriting
The SSEP Team has been able to secure underwriting for a number of SSEP national program activities, including: the ongoing development and support of this web site; the development of the custom SSEP web sites to be provided to participating communities; and staff time for rollout of the SSEP, including national dissemination of the SSEP opportunity, and the significant conversations with interested school districts across the U.S. for building the needed stakeholder base and walk-through of databases for potential funders. This impacts SSEP Options 1 and 2 by reducing the costs by $7,000 (see the Cost Table on the How to Participate Page).

Changes to Option 3 for Small School Districts and Individual Schools
Since the launch of the SSEP program on June 7, we have received calls from small school districts or single schools that also want to participate. The SSEP program was initially designed as an experiment design competition at middle and high school levels to be conducted across a reasonably large school district. The competition is embedded in community-wide programming capable of reaching thousands of students, their teachers, and their families.

On June 16, to address the interest in participation by single schools and small school districts, we offered an Option 3 which was just a reserved experiment slot aboard STS-134 with technical support, but no experiment design competition and no community programming. The cost was $19,600.

For the past week, we have been looking at modifying Option 3 to include programming. We feel that just offering a reserved experimental slot is not the commitment to STEM education we desire. In addition, we now know there are roughly 14,000 school districts in the U.S., 12,000 of which have an enrollment of less than 5,000 students—which we are designating as a ‘small’ school district. These small districts, and even individual schools, should have the opportunity to participate WITH A DESIGN COMPETITION AND PROGRAMMING but scaled back to reflect their smaller community size, and at a lower cost reflective of the far less required human-power and other resources from the SSEP Team at the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education.

We have therefore just revised Option 3, with the new cost also taking into account the new underwriting available. The cost has been reduced from $19,600 to $14,950, and is no longer simply a reserved experimental slot on STS-134. It now includes A DESIGN COMPETITION (if desired) AND ALL THE PROGRAM ELEMENTS found in Option 2 for the larger communities, but scaled down to the size of the community, minimizing cost. Option 1 now includes: a customized SSEP Blog for the community (unlike the more robust web site for the larger communities); weekly tweet-ups with scientists and engineers (though with multiple small school districts across the nation participating in each tweet-up); the ability to send students and teachers to the SSEP Conference in Washington DC (but on a pay as you go basis regarding registration fee); student team clips showcased on YouTube; and the ability to still hold a local experiment design competition (but with 2 rather than 4 finalist proposals submitted for Step 2 Review.)

Note: $15,000 is likely a reasonable proposal request to your State’s Space Grant Consortium, which may have support for grade 5-12 education programs as a funding objective. Please see this earlier post for contact information.

Thoughts?  Leave a comment below.

-SSEP Team

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The Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) is a program of the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE) in the U.S., and the Arthur C. Clarke Institute for Space Education internationally. It is enabled through a strategic partnership with DreamUp PBC and NanoRacks LLC, which are working with NASA under a Space Act Agreement as part of the utilization of the International Space Station as a National Laboratory. SSEP is the first pre-college STEM education program that is both a U.S. national initiative and implemented as an on-orbit commercial space venture.