PHARR, Texas – Vanguard Academy’s commitment to having their students involved in Space exploration was in display at two recent events. 

Leobardo Cantu, a student of Vanguard Academy from San Juan, recently attended Space Academy at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama. 

This is the home of Space Camp®, Space Camp® Robotics™, Aviation Challenge® and U.S. Cyber Camp®. The Rocket Center is a Smithsonian Affiliate and NASA Marshall Space Flight Center’s Official Visitor Center.

Meanwhile, Vanguard Mozart Early College High School and Rembrandt T-STEM Early College High School students had the opportunity to tour SpaceX on Boca Chica beach on August 24thand 25th.  

Cantu participated in a weeklong educational program at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center. The program promotes science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), while training students with hands-on activities and missions based on teamwork, leadership and problem solving.
“This program is specifically designed for trainees who have a passion for space exploration,” a Vanguard Academy news release stated.”

“Leobardo spent the week training with a team that flew a simulated space mission to the International Space Station (ISS), the Moon or Mars. The crew participated in experiments and successfully completed an extra-vehicular activity (EVA), or spacewalk. Leobardo and crew returned to earth in time to graduate with honors.”
The news release said Space Camp uses astronaut training techniques to engage trainees in real-world applications of STEM subjects. Students sleep in quarters designed to resemble the ISS and train in simulators like those used by NASA.
Almost one million trainees have graduated from a Space Camp® program since its inception in 1982, including European Space Agency astronaut, Samantha Cristoforetti and NASA astronauts Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger, Dr. Kate Rubins, Dr. Serena Auñón-Chancellor and Christina Koch, who set the record for the longest duration space flight by a female. 

Children and teachers from all 50 states and almost 150 international locations have attended a Space Camp® program.

Touring SpaceX’s Boca Chica facility

As for the visit to SpaceX by Vanguard Mozart Early College High School and Rembrandt T-STEM Early College High School students, Vanguard teachers believe the visit reinforced classroom learning and deepened conceptual understanding.

Sophia Barajas, a Mozart ECHS 8th grade student, said touring SpaceX was an out of this world experience. She said she is passionate about aerospace engineering and plans to pursue a career in this field.

“We had the opportunity to tour facilities where they build boosters and were building different parts for the rocket,” Barajas said. “It was a great experience and to not just see but learn a lot from Space X engineers.” 

Rembrandt T-STEM ECHS senior Daniel Alvarado also visited SpaceX.

“Touring SpaceX is definitely an unforgettable experience,” Alvarado said. “I plan to pursue a career in engineering and touring SpaceX gives us the perfect opportunity to see and explore all of the career options we have here in the Rio Grande Valley.”

Gerardo Flores, a Mozart ECHS math teacher, said that throughout the tour Vanguard students were able to speak to lead SpaceX engineers and learn about the STEM fields. From math to physics to the latest innovations in technology, he said students got a first glimpse rocket building.

“Our tour guide was a lead engineer in charge of the welding mechanization of a space craft,” Flores said. “It was a tremendous experience for our students, no doubt.” 

Flores said students also got a glimpse on the production of a space craft, learning about the width of the rockets in order to carry 100 tons of weight every time they launch.

Aaron Ibanez, a Mozart ECHS 10th grade student, said asking questions about the future of space and how it intertwines with math and physics was a dream come true.

“We learned about what type of fuel is used in the “Starship,” the fleet they are currently manufacturing,” Ibanez said.

Like her classmates, Selah De Leon agreed this trip was inspirational.

“In the pictures and videos we normally see, nothing prepares you for the comparison of standing next to a rocket,” said De Leon, a Mozart ECHS 8th grade student. “This experience was very mind opening.”

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