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TSTC Fuels Interest in STEM Field

Saturday, June 21, 2014
By Eladio Jaimez

SpaceTim Odoms and his son, Bradley, spent the better part of their Saturday morning building rocket racers at Texas State Technical College last week.

Rocket Racers are small paper cars powered by a balloon. The racers were also part of an event titled, I'm the Mars Generation, at the Challenger Learning Center at TSTC.

"This has been a very insightful outing for us," Tim said. "We're learning alot out here and it's great to see my son having fun and learning at the same time."

Bradley enjoyed taking a tour of the Challenger Learning Center and the visit fueled his interest in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) field.

"I want to be an engineer and maybe work in space," said Bradley, a second grader at Horizon Montessori in Weslaco.

TSTC's Challenger Learning Center was one of 10 centers chosen nationwide by the National Institute of Aerospace to host the event in support of NASA's journey of scientific discovery of our Solar System. Students also learned about the origin of evolution and potential for life elsewhere.

The event was open to the entire community and aerospace enthusiasts of all ages with the emphasis on middle school and high school students.

Center for Science and Math Education Director Adan Trevino said about 60 students came by and took advantage of the STEM activities which included the Rocket Racers and Bottle Rockets.

The racers were tested up and down the hallways of Building B and the rockets were sent airborne outside of the building.

"It was a huge success," Trevino said. "I think a lot of people got an opportunity to see the Challenger Learning Center and learn about what we're doing here. The students built the racers and rockets and learned about STEM while doing it."

Trevino said exposing students to the Challenger Learning Center can open up a world of possibilities for them.

"We hope that by coming here these young students can leave inspired to pursue a STEM career and maybe one day also become an astronaut," he said.

The Challenger Learning Center opened in December 2013 and has served more than 3,000 students from Harlingen and the surrounding communities during the Spring Semester.

For more information on the Challenger Learning Center or to book tours, go to http://www.tstc.edu/harlingenchallenger.

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