UTB begins first day of 'Astronomy Ambassadors Program'
POSTED: Monday, July 14, 2014 - 4:56pm
UPDATED: Tuesday, July 15, 2014 - 8:20am
BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS (KVEO NEWSCENTER 23) — The first day of UTB's Astronomy Ambassadors Program prompted that applause. The program is in tenth year and intends to get high school students involved in cutting edge research in science, engineering, technology, and mathematics, or STEM.
"The students are not just gonna work with some backyard telescope or with some amateur piece of equipment or something like that," said UTB director of the Center of Radio Astronomy Dr. Fredrick Jenet. "We get the students working with the best instruments that human kind has to offer."
"It introduces the local students to things that they think maybe they can't do," said program instructor Rossina Miller.
"It's like a new experience, and new experiences attract you to learn," said program student Lizbeth Barbosa.
But the activities they'll be doing have a far greater impact than they expect:
"The students directly control these instruments in real time and they are impacting the way scientists throughout the world think about the universe," said Dr. Jenet.
About half the high school students in UTB's astronomy ambassador program will go on to pursue a STEM major when they're in college.
"I've always been interested in science but I didn't know physics was my passion until I participated in the summer academy," said Miller.
For some students though, the Astronomy Ambassadors Program just reassures them of what they really want to do:
"I wanted to be an aerospace engineer," said program students Kiana Burks. "It's a really good program," said Burks.
"It's an awesome opportunity for people who want to study this field," said Barbosa.
"It just helps students realize that there are good opportunities for them here locally," said Miller.