Gutierrez Middle School to take part in NASA STEM challenges

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the U.S. Department of Education have developed unique science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) Design Challenges. These challenges will allow middle school students from across the country to connect with NASA’s scientists and engineers to get feedback on their designs, ask questions, and learn what it is like to work at NASA.

Gutierrez Middle School of Arts and Sciences has been selected as one of 10 sites in the state to take part in the NASA STEM Challenges for the 2020-2021 school year.

The Texas cohort, made up of 10 locations across Texas and called NASA 10, will be representing the state of Texas among 25 other states chosen to participate in the national challenge.

“We are honored and excited for the opportunity provided to our students here at Gutierrez Middle School of Arts & Sciences,” Principal Mike Reyes said. “We look forward to collaborating with NASA representatives to further enhance our STEM knowledge and continue to promote our HCISD brand.”

This project will be hosted through the ACE after school program at Gutierrez Middle School of Arts and Sciences.

“It is a great honor to have Gutierrez Middle School ACE program selected to participate in the 2020-2021 NASA 10 STEM Design Challenge,” ACE Project Director Jesus Saldivar said. “This will be an amazing opportunity for students to collaborate in developing solutions to real-world challenges. It’s going to be exciting to see students being given the opportunity to interact with NASA scientist and engineers to discuss their solutions.”

Each STEM challenge is based on real mission data and experiences that take place during human and robotic exploration of the solar system. Students who take part in this collaboration with NASA will learn about the unique set of challenges NASA scientist and engineers face when charting courses to new destinations and the innovative solutions they must produce.

Gutierrez Middle School has been assigned a challenge named, Parachuting onto Mars, based on campus interest. In this project, which is designed for grade levels 6-8, students will help design a device that slows the descent of a spacecraft or probe onto the surface of the planet while protecting the cargo for a successful landing.

Students will be allowed to use materials such as thin string, a small plastic storage bag, aluminum foil, balloons, paper clips, coffee filters, and cotton balls, among other small household items for this challenge.

Students must work within the limits or constraints of mass, weight, and space to successfully accomplish the mission. They will work in teams to design and construct a device that will remain intact throughout the drop and must hold 10 grams of weight while not exceeding a mass of 50 grams.

To submit their work, students will create a 3 to 5 minute video documenting their response to NASA’s challenge. NASA will then choose the top entries and invite those students to connect once more in a culminating special recognition event.

“This is an incredible accomplishment,” Superintendent Dr. Art Cavazos said. “This partnership is going to allow for authentic hands-on experiences in the area of STEM. This is a very unique opportunity for those students who are interested in the science pathway at Gutierrez Middle School of Arts and Sciences.”

Students and their instructors will be provided with online guidance and support through step-by-step instructional guides, videos, and checklists to ensure student success. Instructional staff will also have online, on-demand training sessions available to better prepare them to be able to guide their students through each phase of the design challenges.

“With the quality of work that you do and the culture that you have at your campus, I am sure they are going to fall in love with this site,” said Veronica Kortan, Administrator for Organizational Development, to administration and staff during a Zoom meeting announcement.

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