ASPIRA, Inc. of Pennsylvania (ASPIRA of PA) was selected by Immaculata University to host a week-long Summer of Innovation (SOI) camp, from July 22nd – 26th. The camp is part of NASA’s nation-wide campaign aimed at engaging middle school students across the United States to share in the excitement of scientific discovery and space exploration through unique, NASA-related STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) opportunities. The SOI program seeks to leverage the expertise and reach of NASA’s 10 field centers, national academic and industry partners and smaller, non-traditional collaborators to keep students engaged in STEM activities during the summer school break.
The camp took place at Pantoja Charter (a K-8 bilingual charter school managed by ASPIRA of PA), and in addition to providing facility space, ASPIRA of PA also provided teachers and staff to help facilitate the camp. The teachers participating at the camp are also part of a development program hosted by NASA to improve Science/STEM instruction. Over 80, 4 th – 9 th grade students attended the camp, with 80% of students coming from schools managed by ASPIRA of PA. Throughout the camp, students learned about robotics, computer programming, aeronautics, and in a culminating event on the last day, they launched rockets that they built earlier in the week. Students and parents alike praised the camp, with the only complaint being that they wished it was longer. ASPIRA of PA is already beginning to make plans for next year’s SOI camp, with hopes of extending the length of the camp and offering it to more students.