Middle School students from the surrounding communities participated in the Gains in the Education of Mathematics and Science summer program June 21 to 24 at White Sands Missile Range.
The mission of GEMS is to interest young people, who might not otherwise give serious thought to becoming scientists or engineers, in STEM careers early enough that they have the time to attain the appropriate academic training.
Program Coordinator Mariette Mealor said 64 students from the local area in Las Cruces and El Paso were selected to come out to WSMR and participate in the middle school program this year.
The program is based on a multi-disciplinary educational curriculum, and focused on age and grade-appropriate hands-on activities, in areas such as science, engineering, mathematics, computational sciences, computational biology, biomedical sciences, chemistry and biology.
The students come on post for a week and they are exposed to the application of STEM. Students get to do hands on applications and see what goes on in terms of preparing for a test. They get to spend a full week of interaction with practitioners who have taken STEM to the workplace on a daily basis.
On their last day students spent the morning rappelling from a tower and learning about the M1 A2 tank.
Resource teacher Lorraine Bridges said GEMS is a great program. “It helps to enrich their minds and encourages them to pursue a career in STEM or even help guide them when they are not sure what they want to do as a career.”
Ronan Dowell, a 7th grade student, said the program was a lot of fun and said he wishes it would have been longer. His favorite part was rappelling. “I was really nervous until I got up there and I was really scared until I started going down. It was really fun and I want to do it again if I can.”
Dafne Day, an 8th grade student, said rappelling was really fun. “The hardest part is at the beginning when you have to take the first step.”
After lunch students made presentations about what they learned during the week followed by a graduation ceremony. WSMR Commander Brig. Gen. Eric D. Little and Command Sgt. Maj. Christopher Prosser presented the students with a certificate of completion.