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New NASA space school opening at Martin University

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Indiana young people will get a chance to learn about space travel and the science behind it through a new NASA-backed program at Martin University.

Officials held a dedication Saturday for the NASA Science, Engineering, Mathematics and Aerospace Academy.

The Indianapolis-based university is home to one of 15 of the NASA academies and the first in Indiana, said NASA spokeswoman Darlene Walker.

"We want students to think critically in science and math and provide career opportunities for underserved groups," Walker told The Indianapolis Star.

The program is aimed at students from underprivileged or racial minority backgrounds. Walker said it started in 1993 and reached 59,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade last year. The program aims to give students a chance and the desire to pursue careers in engineering, math and science, Walker said.

A $500,000 grant from the Nina Mason Pulliam Trust paid for a laboratory at the Indianapolis site. Other supporters include the Indianapolis Colts, Lucas Oil and Rolls-Royce.

"This is a day of celebration," said trust spokesman Michael Twyman. "What a wonderful future that will come from this investment."

The project also got $400,000 from the Indiana Department of Education.

Students attending the academy will spend time in class at the university to get background for their projects before they move to hands-on lab work, said Martin University math and science Dean Gloria Ameny-Dixon.

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