Fondren MS students venture through space from the classroom

Project Explore students from Fondren Middle School ventured on an interactive 3D voyage through space on Friday with the Lunar Planetary Institute.  

The Lunar and Planetary Institute (LPI), a research institute in Clear Lake that provides support services to NASA and the planetary science community, partnered with Best Buy’s Geek Squad Academy to host a free one-day STEAM camp for more than 50 HISD students. 

Geek Squad Academy provides an opportunity for middle school students to develop tech skills, build self-confidence, spark creativity, and discover how technology can benefit them in their educational pursuits and future careers.  

Led by LPI Education Specialist Sharell Webb, and facilitated by local Best Buy employees, the students explored coding with miniature lunar rovers and used iPads to maneuver them across replicas of the moon’s surface. They also learned the basics of photography, film and music production, and 3D design.  

“It is most gratifying to create an experience where your kiddos’ eyes light up when realization hits them that what they are enjoying in this moment is something they can do for a lifetime,” said Angela L. Johnson, Fondren’s Project Explore adviser. “It is possible.” 

Through 3d lenses, students were guided through the solar system and looked over the edge of an active volcano. They also took turns evaluating small space rocks provided to the program from NASA. 

“I can’t believe it,” student Akeelah Roberts said, who dreams of becoming a mechanical engineer. “I am holding a rock that traveled many miles to get here.” 

This one-day camp was made possible through Best Buy’s partnership and commitment to school districts across Texas, including a $160,000 donation for HISD students. To learn more about Project Explore, visit