NASA Summer of Innovation, Launch and Learn
New Mexico Space Grant Consortium -- Launch and Learn
The space program had its beginnings in New Mexico, the home of Dr. Robert Goddard. The patented design for the liquid fuel rocket was created in Roswell, N.M., by Goddard. The first rocket to reach space flew from White Sands Proving Ground in 1948.
Launch and Learn provided a one-week professional development workshop for 138 teachers. These teachers went back to their home sites and recruited an average of 24 students each to participate in an intensive three-to-four-week STEM- (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) focused summer camp. They reach:
- Five states (N.M., Texas, Colo., Ariz., Maine).
- 35 school districts.
Launch and Learn teamed up with New Mexico SEMAA (Science, Engineering, Math and Aerospace Academy) to bring the Summer of Innovation into the lives of students. Through the Launch and Learn Program, N.M. Space Grant and N.M. SEMAA share the opportunity to launch student experiments into space from Spaceport America in April 2011.
The support to commercial spaceflight provides a unique opportunity for New Mexico to be selected as a site for Summer of Innovation because New Mexico is the site of the first purpose-built commercial spaceport licensed by the FAA. Spaceport America is a launch and re-entry site for commercial spaceflight vehicles. Spaceport America is also a laboratory for students.
Student Launch Program
The New Mexico Space Grant Consortium provides annual access to space for New Mexico students and teachers. The potential for economic benefits to accrue to New Mexico and our nation from Spaceport America will depend on whether our teachers, faculty and students are given opportunities to learn to compete in the emerging space industries coming to New Mexico. The goal of Launch and Learn is to help prepare students for the challenges facing New Mexico. Bolstering the capability, knowledge base and flight experience of students and faculty allows them to more ably compete in their academic careers and will aid in attracting high-tech business.
Tri-Cultural New Mexico
New Mexico personifies a cultural diversity that is reflected in its schools, with a majority of K-12 students being Hispanic, second language learners. As the first minority-majority state, New Mexico has the responsibility, to educate traditionally underrepresented and under-performing groups in STEM fields to be the next generation of scientists, mathematicians and engineers. An estimated 80 percent of students participating in the NASA Summer of Innovation are from all four underrepresented minority populations.
Using Social Media for Student Competitions
Launch and Learn uses social media networks to advertise and display student achievements in our four competitions. We encourage students to notify their family and friends to view their Launch and Learn work through their social networks. Competitions include:
"Our son had a chance to explore and experience science on a very intimate level beyond my imagination. My husband and I have been absolutely amazed with all the hands-on learning made available throughout [Launch and Learn] in such a short time span. He has truly gained a wealth of knowledge from this experience that will contribute to his academic journey. He was inspired to research on his own at home. Especially one weekend during the camp he took the initiative to spend hours on the Internet to prepare for the next day at camp."
- Experiment contest: Top 20 student experiments proposed from summer camps will be selected to fly on a sounding rocket from Spaceport America. Teams that are chosen will work directly with NASA engineers and scientists to build their experiments.
- Essay contest: The winner of the essay contest will push the button that will launch the rocket from Spaceport America.
- Mission patch contest: The winning artwork of the patch contest will be the official mission patch commemorating this launch from Spaceport America.
- Video contest: The winning video from the video contest will be viewed at the launch on April 1, 2011.
--Carolyn Caudill, parent of a student in Carlsbad, N. M.