HCC teams with Houston Rockets, NASA and Space Center Houston to make Science come to life

Jan 28, 2015

Nearly 400 middle school students were on hand at Space Center Houston as Houston Community College and the Houston Rockets launched “Rockets Science,” a special spring semester curriculum for 6th-8th grade students.

“The idea for this program came from conversations our institution has had about engaging middle school students to begin thinking about a future in STEM related fields,” said Dr. Cesar Maldonado, chancellor for HCC. “The response from the schools was overwhelming, but the bigger surprise was that it was about a 50/50 split of boys and girls who responded. Industry is searching for more qualified workers to move up in the ranks and we want them to know that HCC has the curriculum that will allow that journey to begin.”

The curriculum for the “Rockets Science” program was provided by NASA. Space Center Houston has been the ideal partner to get students excited about STEM careers. As a part of the Houston Community College/ Houston Rockets partnership, this after school project will allow students to participate in web-based learning sessions so they can understand the mechanics of rocketry, and safely construct and launch a rocket.

“I spent 11 and a half years in school beyond high school to get where I am today, “said Jeanette Epps, the first and only African American female NASA astronaut. “I want to encourage you to take a course in STEM and build a foundation for yourself. Even if you don’t end up where I am, it’s a great place to get a feel for what’s out there. Get involved. I never thought I’d get here, but here I am.”

Epps continued to speak about lifelong learning, citing her current study of the Russian language that will result in a five-month summer immersion program in Russia. “I tell people all the time to continue learning. Start at a community college. It’s a great place to begin moving in the right direction – in the direction of your dreams,” she said.

While spending the morning at Space Center Houston, students were provided an opportunity for hands-on learning in such areas as handling and learning about core samples, space food and dietary restrictions that space travel imposes, the science behind space suits, and the important part robotics plays in space exploration. Time was provided for a guided tour so students could take in all that Space Center Houston has to offer.

Houston Community College continues to work with business and industry to develop programs that will lead students to successful careers. Whether they have just a few months to get a certificate, two years to get Associates degrees, or time to pick up a course or two prior to going to a university, students can move from their beginnings at HCC to careers that last a lifetime.

“Rockets Science” webinars will be hosted at 4 p.m. each Wednesday in February so that students can get an introduction to rocketry, learn about rocket fuels and engines, and construct their own rockets that will be launched at HCC Northeast College at 9 a.m. on Thursday, March 5. The public can take part in “Rockets Science,” by logging on to www.rockets.com/hccrocketsscience.


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