Da Vinci Students Invited to Compete against Alabama STEM Students
For the second year, junior and senior students from the Da Vinci School for Science and the Arts have been invited to join the University of Alabama in Huntsville’s InSPIRESS COMPETITION. Da Vinci School is the only school outside of the State of Alabama that has been invited to participate.
The Innovative System Project for the Increased Recruitment of Emerging STEM Students (InSPIRESS) is an outreach project that provides the opportunity for high school students to design and develop a scientific payload to be accommodated on a spacecraft which will be designed by undergraduate engineering students from University of Alabama, Huntsville. The high school students collaborate with the undergraduate engineering students to understand the engineering requirements, the design process, and the role the customer plays in the design. InSPIRESS teams compete for selection by the college teams.
As its name implies, the objectives of this NASA partnership is to create more and better engineers for our workforce. The approach includes the introduction of a spectrum of engineering disciplines, real world challenge, systems thinking, teamwork and strong communication skills. As a Distinguished T-STEM Academy in Texas, all Da Vinci students take four years of engineering. They follow an innovative curriculum developed by the charter schools’ leadership in partnership with Professor Shamsnoz Virani from Penn State. It was this unique program that interested the University of Alabama Project Leaders, Dr. Michael P.J. Benfield and Dr. Matthew W. Turner, to include the El Paso students into the competition for the second straight year.
Last year Da Vinci students represented four teams of juniors and seniors at the Huntsville competition and took second place in one of the categories.
According to Superintendent Iris B. Burnham, “When our students compete, they measure up. Our excellent engineering teachers, lead by Mr. Alexandro Medina, provide this wonderful incentive that offers our students experience in teamwork and project management while challenging them to apply the engineering skills from our Innovative Curriculum for Engineering in High School (ICE-HS) to real problem solving opportunities.”