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NASA Summer of Innovation camp sparks students’ creativity in science, math

Story via the Imperial Valley Press Online

Imperial Valley Press Staff Writer
June 28, 2013

Potential scientists and engineers tested their knowledge and home-made bottle rockets during this year’s NASA Summer of Innovation program at Wilson Junior High School here Thursday.

The one-week summer opportunity, which is geared toward middle school students, aims to excite young teens about science, technology, engineering and math.

Robin Juarez said she enjoyed working on all the projects and putting her math skills to use.

“I wanted to come to the program because I like math and I think engineering is something I want to do,” said Robin, an 11-year-old El Centro resident. “I also learned about the parts of an airplane and how it flies and I didn’t know that before.”

During the program, students had the opportunity to build solar-powered toaster ovens and Styrofoam airplanes in addition to learning about rocketry and altitude.

“We’re also making a civilization that could survive on the moon and I think that has been my favorite,” said Katrina Cañez, a 12-year-old El Centro resident.

The program is offered at middle schools throughout the Imperial Valley by the local MESA program and is funded through a NASA grant, said Jeanette Espino, Imperial Valley MESA program director.

“This is the third year that we’ve been doing it and it’s been a huge success,” Espino said. “The students love it and the teachers love it as well. I think they enjoy being able to learn about these concepts through fun, hands-on activities.”

Program instructors Keitha and Andrew McCandless said they enjoyed venturing outside of the traditional teaching model.

“This is totally different than what we normally do in a classroom,” Andrew, a math teacher at Wilson Junior High said. “We’ve made airplanes and other experiments and the students are in the program based on grades and teacher recommendations, so we know that they really want to be here to learn.”

Keitha, a science teacher at Bill Young Middle School, said she enjoyed seeing high-achieving students being challenged in creative ways.

“I always tell the students to keep trying and to learn from their mistakes because these projects can be challenging,” she said. “I think this program is great because it gives them the chance to explore science and math in a positive and fun way.”

Staff Writer Karina Lopez can be reached at 760-337-3439 or

Copyright © 2013, Imperial Valley Press

Published in MESA Activities