STEM students to visit Goddard Space Flight Center in D.C.

By Frances Taylor - Staff Writer
East Hartford - posted Fri., Apr. 15, 2011
Tyriq Green and Jazmin Rampassard discuss a meal they are creating for astronauts with teacher Jeffrey Lefleur. Photos by Frances Taylor.
Tyriq Green and Jazmin Rampassard discuss a meal they are creating for astronauts with teacher Jeffrey Lefleur. Photos by Frances Taylor.

At the Catalyst after-school science program, East Hartford Middle School students are creating a five-day meal plan for astronauts. “Their task is to create as complete a meal as possible at $22 per gram,” said teacher Jeffrey Lefleur.

The previous week, the students created dehydrated food for the astronauts. “We made dehydrated ham and turkey – it looks a bit like beef jerky,” LaFleur said.

The Catalyst program is designed to develop student interest in STEM - science, technology, engineering and math. The group meets once a week for two and half hours to work on such projects as building a rocket launcher, learning what it takes to live in space, and what it would take to create a colony in space.

The students are visiting the Goddard Space Flight Center in Washington, D.C., during their spring break from April 18 to 22. A possible federal government shutdown loomed for several weeks, LeFleur said, but now everything for the trip is a go. “We were a bit anxious, but that’s all behind us,” he said. The trip will also include a visit to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

The program is funded by Connecticut Center for Advanced Technologies, an East Hartford-based company that promotes partnership with schools and which seeks to prepare students for careers in science and technology. The Washington, D.C., trip is funded by CCAT through NASA.

Of the 23 participants in the program, seven were chosen by lottery to make the trip. Principal Nathan Quesnel picked the names from a hat three weeks ago. They will join with STEM students from Manchester, Vernon and New Britain.

Nicole Hart, an eighth-grader, is one of the students who will be making the trip. It will be her first trip to D.C. “I always liked science, but I was never sure what you could really do with it,” she said. “Here, I’ve learned that you use science to solve all kinds of problems.”


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