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NASA Launch Internship Program: Highlighting the 2021 Engineering Academy

Apr. 26, 2022
 
Students standing and a teacher kneeling for a group photo of the 2021 NASA Launch internship

We are highlighting DPS’ Launch Internship program, which is a program designed to give high school students a first-hand look at a career they’re interested in.

The Career Development (CDT) and Career & Technical Education (CTE) teams collaborated to create the 2021 Engineering Academy, modeled after NASA’s HUNCH Program. Led by Academy instructors, Heather Randall (JFK) and Matt Lapaire (NEC), and working closely with the CTE team, 11th-grade students from 7 DPS high schools met daily last summer for 4 weeks to design and fabricate real products for NASA. At Northeast Early College, students created a life-size, impact-resistant capsule; at JFK High School, students worked on an Agricultural Space Chamber. Students used many school-based learning skills to make their prototypes such as geometry, material science, and projectile motion concepts. Math and physics reasoning was continually used to be the deciding factor in design discussions.

Throughout the internship, students prepared weekly presentations to update NASA representatives on their projects and NASA provided feedback in return. Students also conferred with each other virtually, maximizing the learning and problem solving of teams at each location. Not only are the HUNCH Program prototypes used by NASA to find creative solutions to real engineering problems, the Engineering Academy experience also engaged students in academic learning that was tied to real work. Students used geometry, material science, math and physics reasoning–skills continually used in design discussions–and every student learned to print a 3D model of their own design. Every aspect of modeling came to life in this project!

Teachers and students said the benefits of the program varied and students were clearly thrilled to work on engineering in a bell-free environment. NASA was so impressed with the work done by our DPS Engineering Academy that they arranged a special visit to Denver to meet students in person and see their final projects firsthand! Watch this video about the program to learn more!