Mission to Mars: Full-time summer program runs thanks to grant

 

Zachary Laux

Gus works on his model rocket for “Mission to Mars,” a full-time summer program at the Big Brothers Big Sisters HUB in Saratoga.

Students with Big Brothers Big Sisters are tinkering with model rockets, planting in a hydroponic garden and plotting the trajectory to the fourth planet in our solar system.

They are on a mission to Mars, a feat that would not be possible if it weren’t for a Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) grant.

The HUB in Saratoga has secured enough money from the Wyoming Department of Education through a STEM grant, a grant offered to promote the learning experience of science, technology, engineering and math to keep the HUB facility open full-time.

The HUB secured funding after presenting a “Mission to Mars” summer program curriculum package to WDE officials.

“We had to present to the Wyoming Department of Education of what we would be doing in order to teach the kids STEM, so we chose a mission to Mars,” said Ed Kennaday, an activity director for Big Brothers Big Sisters in Saratoga.

The Mission to Mars curriculum, compiled by former HUB curriculum director Laura Megginson, featured 16 activities for students to participate in, each designed to teach students STEM through the figurative Mars mission.

The WDE grant funding allows Saratoga’s Big Brothers Big Sisters to run the summer program, as well keep the HUB facility open full-time during the summer.

“We have done summer programs in the past with carryover money, but we were not going to be able to stay open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. with carryover money,” Kennaday said. “If we wouldn’t have gotten this grant for the Mission to Mars, we wouldn’t have been able to stay open 10 hours a day.”


Children who are participating in the Mission to Mars could be found tinkering with model rockets Friday at the HUB. Kennaday helped those interested in building rockets read the instructions. The rockets are not finished yet, but will be in a few days. The students, with adult supervision, will then launch the rockets using a gunpowder engine.

“I had a lot of trouble with mine, student Michael Miller said Friday while building his rocket. “Mine is very difficult because there are so many wings to add.”

Miller said he is having fun building his rocket and is looking forward to the launch date.

Kennaday said he and other Big Brothers Big Sisters staff were afraid students would not want to participate in the summer program. However, the program seems to be gaining popularity with the children.

“We were afraid by doing this STEM grant, the kids weren’t going to be excited about it and we were going to see a reduction, but actually the numbers have gone up,” Kennaday said.

The Mission to Mars will continue until the end of summer.

 

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