Annual summer program for students with disabilities

An unidentified participant in the 2011 Regional Alliance Summer Science Institute takes measurements. RASSI participants explore the STEM fields through hands-on activities and projects. (Submitted photo)

Students to focus on engineering, robotics

New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University’s Reaching the Pinnacle program will hold its seventh annual Regional Alliance Summer Science Institute (RASSI) June 11-15, to offer high school students with disabilities the opportunity to explore the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields through hands on activities and projects.

Since 2006, Reaching the Pinnacle has sponsored RASSI in New Mexico and West Texas. This year, RASSI has partnered with the Southern New Mexico Science, Engineering, Mathematics, and Aerospace Academy (SNM SEMAA) to provide additional lab space, materials, and technology experts to assist and guide students in their projects.

Students attending RASSI 2012 will focus on mechanical engineering, robotics and electronics. “Robot Revolution” will provide students with the opportunity to work in teams to design, construct and program their own NXT Mindstorm Robots. Teams will also enter their robots in competitions such as drag racing and tug-of-war. Instructors will provide basic instructions for the students to begin assembly and encourage them to creatively modify designs to create the fastest, strongest and most durable robots possible.

During the week-long program, participants will engage in key areas such as creative design, mechanical engineering, classical physics, electronics and computer programming along with values such as teamwork, organization, sharing of responsibility and confidence-building.

Past RASSI themes have included green technology, science smorgasbord, and crime scene investigation. Themes vary annually and reflect current areas of interest in STEM education and research, including science field work, mathematics applied to biology, hot-air balloon physics, satellite design and design and prototyping of canoes, bridges and rockets.

Reaching the Pinnacle is primarily funded through a five-year grant from the National Science Foundation, but RASSI largely relies on the generosity of volunteers to lead the programs and donate needed supplies and materials.

For more information and to register visit http://rtp.nmsu.edu.

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