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Hopkins Program Uses STEM To Teach Space To Middle Schoolers

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- A Johns Hopkins program uses science, technology, engineering and math to reveal the mysteries of space to middle schoolers. Students are invited to become scientists for the day.

As Gigi Barnett explains, the program could be a launching pad for future careers with NASA.

It's a race against time. Middle schoolers from Howard and Anne Arundel counties and Baltimore City must don clean suits. Every rocket scientist knows it's the first step to build satellites like NASA's Van Allen probes.

"It was really cool to learn about how space craft are tested and all the processes that they go through," said Charlie Tribble.

The students are part of a day-long "Space Academy" at Johns Hopkins' Applied Physics Lab or APL for short. The clean suit race is one way instructors make the science, technology, engineering and math workshops fun.

"Students get to see up close, up front, how these missions actually work. They get to meet the scientists, the engineers---things they see on TV," said JHU-APL Spokesman Mike Buckley.

One of those missions is the launch of the Van Allen probes. With the help of APL scientists, NASA rocketed several satellites in space to take pictures of the Van Allen radiation belts. They're two giant swaths of radiation surrounding the earth. But much about the Van Allen belts are a mystery.

That's not all they learned about NASA's projects.

"The most interesting thing I learned today was the thermo blankets," said Camille Carter. "They put them close to the outside of the spaceships so they don't get too hot or too cold."

Johns Hopkins invited more than 100 students to the space academy. This is a hands-on approach to showing students what their future STEM careers could look like.

"It's really important to get to students now; they're thinking about these careers because it's a real challenge. We need people to enter these fields," Buckley said.

Looks like these students are suited up and ready for a career out of this world.

Something else students learned about the space academy: the Van Allen belts were first discovered back in 1958 by James Van Allen.

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