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Ninety middle school students from across the state experienced fun and absorbed STEM principles during the 2017 NASA Challenge Showcase on March 29 at East Central University.

Through a partnership between NASA and the Oklahoma State Department of Education’s 21st Century Community Learning Centers (CCLC) program, middle school students participated in activities such as launching pencil rockets and learning robotic activities as well as making video presentations about space suit designs.

In addition, Stu McClung, a NASA engineer, spoke to the group about his work involving the Orion Spacecraft.

“The event was a great culminating activity for students from the eight participating schools,” said Dr. Brenda Sherbourne, dean of the ECU College of Education and Psychology. “Students were able to share the processes they used to solve their science challenge. Having a NASA engineer and a NASA educator at the event made the science challenge much more authentic.”

Eight high-needs schools and programs were selected for these meaningful STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) learning opportunities. The participating schools and programs included: Caney, Fort Cobb, Muldrow, Sand Springs, Stilwell, Stratford, True Blue Neighbors Youth Mentoring Program at the University of Tulsa and T.O.U.C.H. Tulsa.

“We would love to host the event in the future,” Sherbourne said. “It was great to have 90 middle school students on our campus and amazing to see what they are learning in their schools. All of the adults involved, left the event inspired by the students’ tenacity and knowledge.”

The event enabled ECU to showcase its new Pitsco STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) Lab, which housed many of the activity sessions.

“The students seemed to love the hands-on science activity as well as the Finch Robot programming activity,” said Sherbourne. “All of the feedback was positive from the students. The teachers loved the Center for Innovative Training and Learning. They took video of the room and the Pitsco kits that are used in our teacher preparation program.”



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