Getting Students Into STEM With Help From NASA

Mar 10, 2017

Select middle school students from across Rhode Island meet with a NASA engineer Saturday as part of NASA’s Globe Challenge. The program, a collaboration between NASA and U.S. Department of Education, aims to get lower income and at-risk students interested in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) careers.

Ayana Crichton is director of the Rhode Island program, based in Cranston. She says the program’s design is key to keeping students engaged.

“We just try and focus on real-world application in our program to keep the middle school student interest because they’re the first one to say, 'This is boring,’” said Crichton.

Crichton says students take the work seriously, knowing they have to submit results to NASA engineers.

The challenge had students studying cloud coverage and its effects on the earth’s surface temperature. Students conducted their research and experiments for weeks and had opportunities to Skype with actual NASA engineers throughout the process.

“It felt like they were working with NASA scientists, right alongside them,” said Crichton.

Rhode Island is one of 15 states chosen to participate in the program this year.