Feature

NASA Partners with Univision to Inspire Students
06.16.10
 
Andrea Davila is only in middle school, but she's already considering her career options.

"I've thought about being an engineer," said Davila, who is very well spoken for her age. "That interests me a lot."

Univision TV crew at Va. Air and Space Center
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A crew from Univision filmed a video segment at the Virginia Air and Space Center May 24, featuring local Hispanic students.
Credit: NASA

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Getting more Hispanic students such as Davila interested in science, technology, engineering and math is at the heart of a new partnership between NASA and Univision Communications, Inc., the leading Spanish language media company in the United States.

NASA is supporting Univision's initiative to improve high school graduation rates, prepare Hispanic students for college and encourage them to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM.

The collaboration complements NASA's initiative to engage underrepresented and underserved students in the critical STEM fields.

On May 24, Davila and eight other Latino middle school students from area schools in Hampton Roads participated in a mock robotics activity at the Virginia Air and Space Center where a video crew from Univision was on hand to capture the students for a spot in an upcoming series of educational programs aimed at getting Hispanic students interested in joining STEM-related summer camps.

The students were so engaged in the "mock" robotic activity, that they hardly paid any attention to the cameras rolling.

Virginia Air and Space Center museum educators Parrish Crosby and Richard Byles kept them entertained with the building and programming of Lego robots.

Parents stood on the perimeter conversing in Spanish, excited that their children will be on television and proud that they are conveying an important message.

"This is a great opportunity for them to be involved," said Juan Cruz, whose son Juan and daughter Gloria were participating in the shoot. "Summer camps are very important and it's good to get started in them at a young age. To help them with their future."

The video segments that Univision is shooting are aimed at Hispanic children and their parents, said Ivelisse Gilman, informal education manager at NASA Langley.

"We want to encourage children to participate in science summer camps and at the same time engage their parents so they can help guide their children," Gilman said. "Univision is our gateway into the Hispanic community."

In addition to the public service announcements, Univision and NASA are working on developing a series of educational video segments that feature "cool" things thing NASA engineers and scientists do. Univision will also feature information on its website about NASA and educational opportunities.

Though they were being filmed, the students knew why they were there.

"I definitely encourage kids to take science summer camps," said Davila, who remembers launching a hand-made rocket from NASA Langley while attending a summer camp two years ago. "When you're at home watching TV, you're not doing anything. When you're at a camp, you're learning something."

 
 
Amy Johnson
NASA Langley Research Center