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McCracken County Public Schools News Article

Eight MCPS Students Selected For STEM Squad At WKCTC's Challenger Learning Center As Part Of Federal NASA grant


Thirty local fifth-seventh grade students (eight McCracken County Schools students) were recently selected to participate in a "STEM Squad" as part of a NASA grant awarded to the Challenger Learning Center (CLC) at Paducah earlier this year. The CLC, one of only 21 organizations across the nation to win an award from a new NASA grant program, received $23,614 to offer unique STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) opportunities to the Squad over the next 12 months. 

NASA's Community Anchor Award grant is designed to help informal education community resources like the CLC implement authentic NASA STEM experiences while reinforcing the CLC's identity as a vital community resource.

"We are privileged to be one of only 21 NASA Community Anchor Award grants in the nation. The student members will learn so much about the many facets of NASA and its missions," said Mellisa Duncan, CLC director. "We look forward to spending a whole year getting to know 30 students who will be the next generation of citizens to pursue STEM careers!"

CLC's "STEM Squad" of fifth-seventh graders will experience various STEM-themed learning opportunities through monthly "STEM Squad Summits," a summer project, and a trip to Space Camp in Huntsville, Ala. At the end of the project, students will participate in a community experience-sharing session and be encouraged to continue their engagement through the formation of an alumni group. This alumni group will be able to volunteer and serve the CLC in different capacities. 

The students listed below were chosen from many applicants and completed an application that included an essay portion and reference letter from non-family members. Each essay was scored by four people: WKCTC/CLC staff, Paducah Junior College, Inc. board members and community members using a common rubric. 

"All the essays were amazing. It was so hard to narrow down the applications," said Duncan, adding, "each had heartfelt reasons why that person should be chosen."

Heath Middle School
Andrew Byrne, Kevil (7th grade) Alivia Pardue, West Paducah (7th grade)

Lone Oak Intermediate School
Eli Ursini, Paducah (5th grade)

Lone Oak Middle School
Rex Johnston and Bennett Seaton, Paducah (6th grade)

Reidland Middle School
Adelma Lilijenberg, Paducah (6th grade), Avalyn Jones, Paducah (6th grade), and Caleb Newman, Paducah (6th grade)

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