NASA Center Program Gets Kids 'Mad' For Science, Prepared for Future

February 2, 2006 - Estrella Mountain Community College's NASA Center for Success in Math and Science, in partnership with the college's Learning for Life Community Education department, will host 44 third, fourth, and fifth graders for an intensive 'Mad Science' program, every Saturday for six weeks at the College's campus in Avondale. The Mad Science program is a series of fun and rigorous classes that give elementary age children extra help in math and science and change perceptions about these crucial subjects. Made possible by a PACE MSTEM Grant, the NASA Center has named a group of students from Sunrise Elementary School in West Phoenix the beneficiaries of this six-week weekend camp, at no cost to the students, their families, or the elementary school.The educational program kicked off with a school wide assembly in which students learned a preliminary lesson about the four principles of matter, as well as bubbles, oxygen, and other gases. The weekend programs will expand into other math and science related topics such as understanding polymers and basic chemistry, the mechanics of rocketry, beginning engineering, and properties of light, all of which will include hands-on experiments that wow students, and give them the extra help they need to be successful in the areas of math and science, now and in the future. The weekend program is part of the NASA Center's continuing commitment to West Valley community, which extends beyond college and high school age students, and into the K-8 sector. The NASA Center was created to encourage students of all ethnic and financial backgrounds to reach out for careers in the field of engineering and other science and math related avocations. Achieving that goal means enhancing student skill sets at a young age, which is the purpose of the Pre-college Achievement of Excellence in Math Science Engineering and Technology grant that Estrella Mountain received, which has made the students free, Mad Science experience possible. The K-8 component complements existing pre-college programs sponsored by EMCC's NASA Center at the high school level, a program which consists of after school sessions, hands-on activities, lecture, field trips, all funded by the PACE MSTEM grant. But in addition to raising knowledge and family awareness of the value of these subjects, the children's attendance of these weekend courses has an added benefit for West Phoenix families. "Many of these parents have probably never been to college themselves," said Anna Russo, M.Ed, a coordinator within the NASA Center. "While the kids are learning about math and science, the parents will be learning about college opportunities for themselves. It might be the push many need to go back to school, or to think about education for themselves in a way they never before considered."The six-week academy begins on February 4, and continues through March. Two sessions will be offered each Saturday from 9:30-10:30 am, and 11:45 am - 12:45 p.m. The Mad Science Academy will also be a regular offering the Learning for Life, the Community Education department of Estrella Mountain. Those classes are offered through the Spring and Fall semesters at a cost of $30 per three-hour session. For more information about the Mad Science academies, visit For more information about this and other NASA Center initiatives, visit To learn more about Community Education, visit Estrella Mountain Community College is located on Thomas and Dysart Roads in Avondale and offers transfer-ready academic courses and job-specific occupational training to more than 13,000 students annually. Estrella Mountain is part of the Maricopa County Community College District, one of the largest community college districts in the nation. For more information visit or .