Local STEM Space Camp to Offer High School Students Valuable Hands-On Experiences This Summer | WV News


Held daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. July 12-16, the camp will be available only to 16-18 students, said Dr. Todd Ensign, FSU faculty member and program manager for the NASA IV&V Education Resource Center. Regardless of prior experience, education or future aspirations, any high school students are welcome to apply, Ensign said.

“We are looking for inquisitive minds — students who are interested in learning things they don’t know,” he said. “Not necessarily students who are already taking part in these STEM activities, but really the students that want to expand their knowledge and are interested in engaging, hands-on, project-based learning experiences. “They understand, build them and test them, collecting data themselves, and are completely immersed from the first day of the camp to the last,” he said.

The founder and director of Destination SPACE, Dr. DeWayne Cecil, said the program is unique in that it allows students to build, test, calibrate and understand the workings of programmable robotic rovers and weather stations while collecting real scientific data. Additionally, Cecil said most of the hands-on work has been designed, tested and vetted by former students who have gone through the space camp and satellite programs.

The camp will feature NASA scientists, engineers and educators and will be filled with science, engineering, team-building activities. By the end of the week, students will have gained hands-on experience with computer-aided design, 3D printing, model rocketry and soldering. “As a residential program, this allows us to engage students from across the state rather than just a particular region. Allowing us to have a more diverse population of students involved. Our real goal is to increase diversity and inclusion of underrepresented populations.”

Camp volunteer Van Tran has taken a gap year between high school and college to volunteer and serve through the AmeriCorps program, after which he will be attending Harvard University. “It’s not only student participants, but former students that do the mentoring and bulk of the hands-on work,” he said. “Our goal is to reach those minority and underrepresented populations, get them involved and give them opportunities to not only attend a program, but be part of the program.

Other programs offered by the NASA IV&V Education Resource Center this summer will include but are not limited to: Tran said he grew up in West Virginia, attending academic camps and programs throughout the state and with students from across the country, and it wasn’t long before he realized that some areas of West Virginia weren’t as privileged as others in regard to internet access and opportunities. “I think education and access to these opportunities is so important,” he said. “There is such a divide from what I’ve seen in the state and outside of the state. My hope is that we can use this camp to inspire students to reach their potential, so those students can inspire others to reach their potential.”

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