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Museum team of students wins national competition

DAYTON, Ohio -- The MarStars team of sixth to eighth graders from the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force is one of 21 winning "Stellar" teams in Lockheed Martin Corporation's 2006 Space Day national Design Challenges competition. The team won "Best Overall" in their category.

Led by museum educator Cindy Henry, the team's winning entry was called the SMART (Scientific Martian Apparatus Retrieving Tool). It is a tool that can reach objects from nearly 20 feet away and features a camera, light and spectrometer.

Teams were cited for creativity, design and overall excellence. They could choose between six different challenges. The museum's team chose "Galactic Gear." The objective was to design and build a tool that can be used to explore and/or survive on another planet.

"This competition is an excellent way to get students fired up about learning," according to Henry.

Space Day is a year-long effort with a goal of advancing science, math and technology education. The inquiry-based learning program encourages teams to utilize science and math concepts, initiate independent research and connect directly with experts in the field.

"As the Baby Boomer generation retires, the demand for young scientists and engineers is expected to increase at almost four times the rate of all other occupations," said Bob Stevens, president and CEO of Lockheed Martin Corporation. "In ten years, there will be a major work force gap in technical industries if we do not strengthen the interest today's young people have in math, science, technology and engineering. The Design Challenges are a vehicle to achieve that goal."

Winners were selected by a team of educators from a field of 259 submissions. Members of the MarStars team and their leader have been invited to the Space Day national celebration on May 4 at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. The students will be honored in a special ceremony hosted by NASA.

For additional information about Space Day, visit www.spaceday.org.

NOTE TO MEDIA: For more information, contact the National Museum of the United States Air Force Public Affairs Division at (937) 255-4704, ext. 332.

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