Straw Bridge building:
Middle-school students work on mini-bridges built from soda straws during one of nine challenges at LAUSD's "Beyond the Bell" wrap-up event at the Columbia Memorial Center. (NASA / Cecilia Cordova) About 200 middle-school students who were immersed in science, technology, engineering and mathematics via a NASA-developed curriculum at the Los Angeles Unified School District's "Beyond the Bell" after-school program showed off what they had learned at an outdoor demonstration event at the Columbia Memorial Center in Downey June 2.
The NASA Beginning Engineering Science and Technology, or BEST, curriculum used in the after-school program was specifically designed for the middle-school level. It includes interactive activities and team challenges as well as the unique opportunity to interface with experts in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematic (STEM) fields.
NASA's BEST program is a joint initiative to inspire and motivate young Los Angeles students to pursue STEM-related careers. It was funded under NASA's Summer of Innovation educational outreach to middle schools. Susan Hoban, one of the authors of the BEST curriculum, was among NASA representatives attending the program's final event.
The curriculum was incorporated into LAUSD's Beyond the Bell program via a partnership with the Office of Education at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force and its partner, the AERO Institute in Palmdale, Calif., which managed the initiative.
The Columbia Memorial Center is located in a portion of the former North American Rockwell / Rockwell International Space Division plant in which much of the space shuttles and the Apollo capsules were designed and built.
For more on NASA's Beginning Engineering, Science and Technology program, visit: