St. Martin de Porres Academy (SMPA), in collaboration with The Treworgy Planetarium at Mystic Seaport Museum, was selected as one of three schools nationwide to participate in a new, space-centered STEM initiative launched in August 2022 that will culminate in students watching the SpaceX Crew-5 Shuttle launch live at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on October 3, 2022 (weather permitting.)
The launch will be led by astronaut Nicole Aunapu Mann, the first Native American woman to travel to space, which is especially exciting for St. Martin students who are 99% Hispanic, Black and Multi-racial.
The Treworgy Planetarium received a special NASA Informal Education Community Anchor designation and funding in 2021 to broaden student participation in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Programming through the Planetarium during Covid led to the partnership between SMPA and Mystic Seaport Museum which is providing SMPA students with 12 STEM lessons at their school, virtually and at the Planetarium, and participation in the Students To Launch (S2L) initiative that is giving three schools the opportunity to receive STEM programming and to watch a shuttle launch at the Kennedy Space Center.
Launched by NASA, founding sponsor the American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), Griffin Communications Group, First Light Ventures, and Oregon State University, S2L is a new national Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education initiative designed to inspire students to develop a deeper understanding of the challenges and goals of spaceflight missions and, in doing so, to discover passions that can lead to a career in aerospace and astronautics.
“At St. Martin’s we focus on education and opportunity. The S2L is quite an amazing opportunity for our students,” said Allison Rivera, SMPA President. “We believe socio-economic status should not be a barrier to success. We reinforce in our students that they can be anything they want to be when they grow up. St. Martin’s supports our students academically, socially, emotionally and financially for 12-years, from middle school through high school and college, to ensure they have the resources and guidance to do just that.”
SMPA’s entire 7th and 8th grade classes will fly to Florida on Saturday, October 1st. When the students were told about getting to participate in the S2L program, the classroom erupted in a mass of cheers and tears. “I can’t believe we get to see a space shuttle go into space!” shouted one student, while another cried in disbelief, and another repeated, “How did they know about us?” Miracles do happen!
About Students to Launch (S2L)
The mission of Students To Launch is to inspire students from communities across the US to develop a deeper understanding of the challenges and goals of spaceflight missions and, in doing so, discover passions that can lead to the possibility of a career in aerospace and astronautics.
S2L offers a unique opportunity for students to participate in NASA mission inspired activities at their school, The Treworgy Planetarium at Mystic Seaport Museum and at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. The experience provides four days of programming at the planetarium and four at St. Martin’s, including a full “Rocket Day Program” where students build and launch their own rockets. It culminates in a four-day all-expenses-paid trip to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida where St. Martin students will have the opportunity to participate in space-related educational activities, tour the Kennedy Space Center, meet with astronauts and other industry experts and, hopefully, if Hurricane Ian cooperates, the chance to witness a rocket launch in person from special viewing areas at Kennedy Space Center.
The program was designed to inspire students to imagine a future for themselves working in the space industry. “AIAA is excited to play a role in helping NASA engage students from underserved, underrepresented communities,” said Dan Dumbacher, AIAA Executive Director. “Giving students opportunities to discover their passions and explore career paths in aerospace and other STEM fields is a priority for us. Students involved in this program are seeing for themselves the diverse opportunities and careers in the aerospace industry. [We hope} they will be able to see themselves doing this kind of work and being an integral part of something that changes the world.”
Treworgy Planetarium at Mystic Seaport Museum
Mystic Seaport Museum has been designated by NASA and received grant funding as a NASA Informal Education Community Anchor. Mystic Seaport Museum is one of only 21 recipients selected from across the United States. It is one of only two Community Anchors in New England.
The designation recognizes the Museum and its Treworgy Planetarium as a community resource and provides funding to bring space exploration to traditionally underserved areas and broaden student participation in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). The Museum works with middle school students in Eastern and Southern Connecticut using and sharing NASA STEM engagement learning resources and opportunities.
“We are excited to create new opportunities where students can experience the feelings of discovery and confidence that space exploration and STEM engagement is all about,” said Brian Koehler, supervisor of the Treworgy Planetarium at Mystic Seaport Museum.