NASA Summer Camp Broadens Horizons for Success After 6 Students

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Success After 6 students are experiencing what it takes to work for NASA at a four-day summer camp through the collaboration of the United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley and Advanced Methods in Innovation.

Advanced Methods in Innovation, or AMI, received a grant for nearly $5,000 from the NASA Glenn Research Center for the camp, which runs from Aug. 5 to 8 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Youngstown Business Incubator’s INVENT 3D Maker Space.

“NASA has a strong commitment to STEM education and getting students excited about STEM engineering, aerospace, space travel, going to Mars and the moon,” said Julie Smith, executive director of AMI, a nonprofit. “This is a way to expose kids to these different types of opportunities learning not only about space history, but what the future of space travel is.”

The program recruited 20 middle school students from Success After 6 schools in Youngstown City School District, Campbell City Schools and Liberty school district and Youngstown Community School to learn about NASA’s moon mission and the environment of the moon, Smith said, as well as conduct hands-on experiments such as designing a spacecraft that can land safely on the moon.

Other activities include creating presentations that will be submitted to NASA Glenn and learning a computer-aided design program to create mission badges for their team’s T-shirts.

“Very excitingly, for the fourth day, they’ll be speaking with somebody from NASA Glenn Research and be able to ask questions of an astronaut or scientist about space exploration, what are their experiences, what are some of the things they’re doing at NASA Glenn,” Smith said.

The summer camp is a way to expose students to new opportunities, said Julie Smith, executive director of Advanced Methods in Innovation.

The camp emphasizes on critical thinking, creativity, collaboration and communication, Smith said. Earlier this year, the United Way brought together a group of young men from its Promising Men Mentorship program to go through a one-day program consisting of building a Mars rover.

“We felt it had such a big impact on them that when Julie approached us saying they had received a grant from NASA for a summer camp, we reached back out to these boys, but we opened it up to some of the kids in our other schools where we have Success After 6,” including schools in Liberty Local School District, Campbell City Schools, Youngstown Community School and Taft Elementary School, said Stacia Erdos, vice president of strategic planning for United Way.

In addition to exposing students to science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, it provides opportunities for project-based learning instead of book learning, as well as critical thinking and team-building, Erdos said.

“What I have found is one of the most important aspects of this is to expose students to the possibility of STEM careers, but more importantly, they gain confidence by doing this,” Erdos said. “We’ve had young boys and girls who come through this and afterwards, they realize they’re pretty good at this, that this might be an option for their future.”

Oftentimes, students who learn about STEM question what it means and how they will use it in their own lives or careers, Smith said. At the camp, students can tie STEM skills to actual outcomes, she said.

“The kids are laughing, they’re having fun, they’re working together and collaborating,” she said. “At the same time, they’re learning that STEM is fun and STEM is relative.”

Pictured above: Success After 6 students Antoniah Underwood, Celeste Landers, Charley Masters, Tairan Davis, Amari Jones, Israel Davis, Christopher Wynn, Angeliz Diaz and Donte Mauldin.

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