Up, up, and away! Rocket Science class at MSU Denver generates interest in STEM for middle school students

MSU Denver's Summer Science Institute gets kids hands-on with science
Posted at 10:43 PM, Jun 27, 2024

DENVER — Metropolitan State University of Denver hosted middle school students over the start of summer in a series of day camps, as part of MSU’s Summer Science Institute.

There were a variety of daily programs available throughout the month of June. The goal was to work with students to develop their STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) identity and to help them retain their studies from the previous school year.

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Linda Sivertson, the Program Development Manager at the Center for Advanced STEM Education, laughs as students launch their rockets.

“Research shows that students who have a strong STEM identity will stay in the field a lot,” said Linda Sivertson, the Program Development Manager at the Center for Advanced STEM Education. “Because they've learned how to incorporate that into themselves and be able to go through struggles that they may face, either in graduate school, in the workplace or in other areas.”

There continues to be a need to get students interested in STEM, so they can one day fill the growing opportunities in the workforce.

“Here in the state of Colorado, we have a lot of employers that are looking for those skill sets,” said Sivertson.

This isn’t just an opportunity for the middle school students attending the Summer Science Institute. This is also a chance for MSU students like Ramsey Rhykerd to get acclimated to teaching, which is the career she is pursuing for after graduation.

Ramsey Rhykerd, a senior at MSU, helps a middle school student set up his rocket.

“I love the kids,” said Rhykerd. “They're really funny and they're really great. When they're enthusiastic about stuff, their creativity also makes me really happy. We had… a bunch of different rocket designs today.”

The students learned about the basics of rocket science using plastic bottles, hot glue, water, and air pressure. On other days the subjects were anatomy, physiology, microscopy, and other sciences designed to get the students using their hands.

“They get exposed to a lot of different types of science, which is really great,” said Rhykerd. “I think that maybe science as a whole can be kind of intimidating. But it's like… if you like this one facet of it… and I get to kind of help them see some of that. Which I think is cool.”

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