U.S. Department of Education’s Let's Read! Let's Move! Summer Series Goes to Space: Students Train Like An Astronaut and Blast Off Around the Solar System with Miss America 2013 and NASA

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U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will host the third Let's Read! Let's Move! event of 2013 on Wed., July 24, at 11:20 a.m. at the U.S. Department of Education headquarters in Washington, D.C. Joining Duncan will be Miss America 2013 Mallory Hagan, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet and George Zamka, two-time space shuttle astronaut.

Before the reading session, Miss America will kick off the event by leading children in a STEM-education themed activity including exercises to Train Like An Astronaut with Shelley Canright, senior advisor to the National Aeronautical and Space Administration's (NASA) Associate Administrator for Education and Camsie McAdams, senior advisor for STEM Education at the U.S. Department of Education. After the training exercises, they will take the students on a "mission to space" as they learn a dance that highlights the planets in our solar system. Educators from the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum will collaborate with Miss America to teach the children about the unique features of each planet.

Following the reading, the YMCA of Metropolitan Washington and Miss America will lead students in the Let's Move! session of fun, space-themed, physical activities inspired by First Lady Michelle Obama's initiative to combat childhood obesity by emphasizing healthy eating and an active lifestyle.

The summer enrichment series is part of the Corporation for National and Community Service's United We Serve: Let's Read! Let's Move! initiative, which engages youth in summer reading and physical activity, as well as provides information about healthy, affordable food. The goal of these events is to keep children reading, moving and active over the summer months and to highlight the importance of access to high-quality early learning programs in providing all children a strong start on the path to readiness for school.

"The beginning years of a child's life are critical for building the foundation needed for success later in school, college and career," said Secretary Duncan. "To help all children begin kindergarten on a level playing field, the Administration is continuing to work to expand access to high-quality early learning programs. Let's Read! Let's Move! highlights the importance of investing in our nation's youngest students and getting them off to a strong, healthy start."

The Department's Let's Read! Let's Move! series is being carried out in partnership with the YMCA of Metropolitan Washington PHD (Physical, Healthy, Driven) program. Target Corporation will provide healthy snacks, and every child will be able to select a free new book to take home, courtesy of Target and its partnership with First Book. A vegetable and fruit tasting station will be featured, courtesy of Giant Food, a partner of the YMCA.

Various administration officials and other public figures will participate in the upcoming Let's Read! Let's Move! events, scheduled for Aug. 1 and Aug. 6. Preschool and elementary age youngsters from a number of schools and centers in the area (listed below) will attend the July 24 event, as well as the children of Department employees.