Last Modified: Tuesday, August 07, 2012 11:26 AM
Forty-two 10th- and 11th-graders from around the state explored areas of outer space at McNeese State University’s summer Reach for the Stars Explorer Camp. The camp is funded by a federal grant initiative called Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP).
This grant program is designed to increase the number of students who are prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary education, according to Dr. Nikos Kiritsis, dean of the College of Engineering and Engineering Technology and program coordinator of the grant. “GEAR UP provides grants to states and partnerships like ours to elevate the academic and career aspirations of students from LA GEAR UP schools.”
Kiritsis said the Explorer Camp seeks to use the excitement of space to provide some basic science and mathematics skills preparation, as well as planning for entrance into an undergraduate program upon graduation from high school. There were two LA GEAR UP camps this summer.
“Space is one of the few areas that immediately attracts and inspires most of the students to learn,” he said. “Also, a wide range of science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields combine and integrate when trying to explain how and why ‘things’ happen in space. And space-oriented activities lend themselves for adoption into problem-based learning environments for children of any age.”
Students explore principles from engineering, chemistry, physics, biology and astronomy as they relate to space science and exploration through model rocketry, space robotics, space biology and astronomy classes, said Kiritsis.
As part of the camp, students visited Space Center Houston to tour the facility and Starship Gallery.