Pumps and Pipes give STEM Schools Taste of Real World

It’s not every day that a freshman in high school gets to talk one-on-one with a former astronaut and current NASA chief, but for Energy Institute High School students Chisom Anyanwu, Matthew Brack, Timothy Chung, and Avin Passalar, meeting NASA Director Ellen Ochoa was beyond comprehension.

“I just can’t believe it,” said Passalar. “I could have talked to her for hours. She had such amazing things to say about being a woman in the space industry.”

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Passalar and her classmates met with Ochoa and were even part of live web broadcast during the Pumps and Pipes Exploration Symposium at the Houston Methodist Research Institute on December 9. The conference focused on the cross overs between the fields of medicine, space, and oil and gas. Energy Institute HS students along with others from five other HISD schools attended the daylong event, which featured hands-on demonstrations and presentations by some of the most prestigious doctors, researchers, and scientists in the world.

“All of the concepts we have been teaching our students when it comes to STEM, (science, technology, engineering, and math) they are getting to actually see how it relates to different careers,” said M.C. Williams Middle School Principal Corey Seymour. “This type of experience is invaluable to our kids.”

Both M.C. Williams and the Energy Institute are part of a group of six schools awarded a combined $12 million in federal grant funds for new magnet programs that emphasize STEM instruction. A part of the grant, the six schools will offer regular field-based learning experiences such as the Pumps and Pipes Symposium and work with industry partners in the fields of medicine, space, computer science, and energy.

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“Having partners like Pumps and Pumps will give our students the real world skills and the hands-on experiences they need to connect what they are doing in school to the jobs that are currently out there or have yet to be developed,” said Assistant Superintendent of School Choice Dave Wheat.

A presentation on HISD’s new STEM based magnet programs was also part of the symposium that focused on fostering and building opportunities with Houston’s largest industries. All six of HISD’s newest STEM based magnet schools are currently accepting applications for the 2014-2015 school year. The deadline to apply is Friday, December 20.