ARLINGTON, Va. (NNS) -- Participating in a White House initiative to offer Advanced Placement (AP) courses to military family communities, the Office of Naval Research (ONR) is kicking off a $1.1 million investment Sept. 30 in high schools in two states.
ONR's sponsorship helps to implement a curriculum of 13 AP math and science courses in three high schools-two in Virginia and one in Hawaii.
"These regions have dense populations of children from military families who move around often," said Chief of Naval Research Rear Adm. Nevin Carr, who leads the Navy and Marine Corps' brain trust of scientists and engineers at ONR. "It is important to give these young students a chance to take academic courses that will inspire them to pursue careers in the sciences."
Access to the courses gives students an opportunity to earn college credit for advanced coursework. The program also provides the benefit of a transferrable curriculum for students who are uprooted to attend a new school because of an active-duty parent's military reassignment.
Two Virginia Beach-area schools, Green Run High School and Salem High School, are recipients of the $375,000 grants from ONR. They were selected after a study by the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI) concluded that the Hampton Roads region held the most promise for its specialized AP math and science curriculum. The courses include biology, calculus, chemistry, computer science, electricity and magnetism, mechanics, physics and statistics.
"Taking AP courses significantly increases students' chances of succeeding in college," said ONR's Director of Research Dr. Michael Kassner, who oversees the Navy's science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) office. ONR's support for these schools also provides professional development opportunities for teachers, he added.
The investment is part of a concerted effort by naval officials to focus on boosting K-12 STEM education because of the need to produce future scientists and engineers to replenish their aging force of technology experts.
"According to the National Science Foundation, the U.S. lags other nations in academic metrics associated with math, science and engineering majors and graduate degrees," Carr said. "The Department of the Navy is committed to supporting organizations that focus on generating more interest in technical subjects and doing so with naval relevant content wherever possible."
The ONR effort is in partnership with the nonprofit National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI). Last year, NMSI launched the Initiative for Military Families, part of a White House program called Joining Forces, which aims to improve science and math education at public schools populated by students from military families. NMSI, this year, is expanding its STEM program to 28 public high schools in 12 states, reaching nearly 40,000 students.
For more news from Office of Naval Research, visit www.navy.mil/local/onr/.