Thirty students from across the Antelope Valley participated in a week-long Gateway Academy at Lancaster High School under Project Lead the Way.
Activities included building and launching rockets out of soda bottles, pencils and straws.
Students were also required to research and then build a portable tower and a bridge strong enough to hold a tennis ball – each using only eight sheets of paper and 18 inches of tape. They also built paper gliders and learned about flight controls.
Project Lead the Way is a national nonprofit organization that partners with middle and high schools to implement a curriculum in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics in an effort to prepare students for academic and professional success. All instructors are trained by PLTW and must have hands on experience in these disciplines.
“It is encouraging to see so many females interested in the program,” said Bob Fenbers who instructs the course and is an algebra and engineering teacher at Lancaster High School. Parents, teachers, students and aerospace volunteers also helped Fenbers teach the course. “When the students see how other kids build something, it makes them think why they did their project a certain way and why others did it another way. They can compile ideas and also learn from each other.”
“This program makes learning fun,” said Victoria Conant a Lockheed Martin employee who works in property management and school outreach programs. “It really is important to expose and engage students at a young age, even younger than this.”
Reyna Sevilla from Alpine Elementary School in Littlerock, Calif., heard about the program from her teacher Malissa Bidnick. “It sounded interesting but when I saw the photos of how much fun it was, I wrote an essay and was chosen,” said Sevilla. She wished there were more spaces available because a few of her friends did not get in. “I think they have to choose a few students from each school but I wish that there was enough room for everyone who wrote a good essay.”
Randy Scott, one of the volunteer engineers helping to put on the course, said, “This is another excellent example of increasing the large number of students we have involved in STEM activities in the Antelope Valley, as well as creating greater interest in STEM educational activities.”