Char-Koosta News

The Official Publication of the Flathead Nation online

October 28, 2010

NASA space academy for kids launches inspiration

By Lailani Upham

Space academy consultant Lori Lambert and a group of students show excitement and stand in awe as one the paper rockets shoots off on a perfect high velocity launch. (Lailani Upham photo)Space academy consultant Lori Lambert and a group of students show excitement and stand in awe as one the paper rockets shoots off on a perfect high velocity launch. (Lailani Upham photo)
Space academy consultant Lori Lambert and a group of students show excitement and stand in awe as one the paper rockets shoots off on a perfect high velocity launch. (Lailani Upham photo)

PABLO — Kids designing rockets for missions to fly to Mars, Neptune, around space and beyond; to finding a black hole, were some of the ideas students came up with this past Saturday morning at Salish Kootenai College at a one-day workshop for middle school and high school students in the local area.

The Saturday NASA Space Academy at SKC campus was funded through a NASA grant based out of the University of Idaho. “The focus is to get kids excited about science and seeing how NASA and science applies to Native Games,” explained Dr. Lori Lambert, SKC professor of Medical Ecology and Anthropology and space camp consultant.

Instead of flopping in front of a television watching cartoons with a bowl of “Cocoa Puffs” on a chilly and damp Saturday morning kids from around the Flathead reservation launched their own hand-made advanced high-powered paper rockets outside the Late Louie Caye building.

Approximately 25 students ranging from fifth grade to high school were selected for the NASA one-day program to experience and get excited about science-centered careers put on by Lambert and SKC faculty Space Academy coordinator Frank Finley.

The one-day space academy was part of the NASA Idaho Space Grant Consortium, which was one of four states chosen to participate in NASA’s Summer of Innovation (SOI) program. The ISGC’s proposal, Idaho, Montana and Utah – Summer of Innovation: NASA Education and STEM Programs for underrepresented populations, was awarded the full grant of $868,284 this year for three years.

(L to R) James Farmer, Jr., Coby Debruin and Jerome Finley demonstrate to each other tossing imaginary atlatls before heading outside to do the real thing. (Lailani Upham photo)
(L to R) James Farmer, Jr., Coby Debruin and Jerome Finley demonstrate to each other tossing imaginary atlatls before heading outside to do the real thing. (Lailani Upham photo)

Salish Kootenai College was host location this past summer for the SOI three-day experience geared to equip teachers with tools and help enhance their STEM curricula in the classrooms. Finley and Lambert ran the teacher space camp this past July. “Teachers learned the NASA space curriculum and brought the ideas to their classrooms. Teachers from Wyoming, Missoula, and Lake County participated as well as students in the education Department at SKC,” Lambert said.

ISGC Teams traveled to a total of 13 locations on the tribal reservations and in areas with high Latino student populations throughout Idaho, Montana and Utah this past summer.

This past weekend was a brief activity that was part of the student portion of the program to conduct experiments and participate in hands-on activities based on NASA themes. The team also brought a day of hands-on activities for approximately 20 students at Two Eagle River School on Tuesday.

Students had the opportunity to build model rockets and learn about aeronautics. Another station taught by Finley allowed the students to design and learn the effects and frequencies of the traditional and ancient atlatl spear. The atlatl is a tool that uses leverage to achieve greater velocity in dart-throwing, and includes a bearing surface that allows the user to temporarily store energy during the throw.

Later in the afternoon students participated in games of Lacrosse taught by SKC liberal arts faculty Alex Alviar. Lacrosse has its origins in a tribal game played by all eastern Woodlands Native Americans and by some Plains Indians tribes.

The space academy hopes is to help young native students take an interest from a native perspective and gain an appreciation for topics of math, chemistry, physics, electronics, computer science, geology, earth science, biology and mechanics. This has been a first attempt through ISGC to reach Flathead reservation-wide school age students to boost excitement for space careers. Lambert said she hopes this will be a beginning of many more.

Advertise with us!
Share
submit to reddit
('DiggThis’)
Delicious Bookmark this on Delicious