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Fall/Winter 2011-2012

NASA Opens World of Space Travel to Imperial Valley MESA Students

Boys at NASA event

MESA middle school students got a thrilling up-close look at the technology behind space travel, thanks to NASA.

A two-week summer program sponsored by the space agency provided hands-on and computer-based learning for 225 students from five school districts served by the Imperial Valley MESA center.

Students learned about rockets and aeronautics by touring the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center in Palmdale, going aboard the 747 that carries the space shuttle, meeting with engineers, and building and launching their own model rockets—some of which flew more than 500 feet in the air.

The initiative was a part of NASA’s new Summer of Innovation Program, an effort to infuse NASA-themed science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) activities into summer programs for middle school students. NASA and MESA have built partnerships throughout the state in various capacities. (See story page 1.)

NASA awarded the Imperial Valley MESA center a $20,000 grant, which allowed the program to leverage additional money and in-kind contributions from the five districts.

Students came from the Calexico, Calipatria, El Centro and Holtville Unified School districts and the Westmorland Union School District.

“Students were given the opportunity to study space exploration, while incorporating many of the engineering concepts learned through the MESA program,” said Mario Garcia, Holtville Middle School principal. “The two programs working in conjunction with one another kept the students interested and engaged with a desire for learning more about the sciences. We are extremely proud to have participated in the NASA Summer of Innovation Program in conjunction with MESA and hope that this partnership continues to provide our students with this once-in-a-lifetime experience.”


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