East End House Students Go to 'Space'
Ten students from the Youth Opportunities Summer Program, an East End House program for sixth through eighth graders at the Kennedy-Longfellow School, competed in a race of robots in outer space in August.
Eight middle schoolers participated in the Zero Robotics Summer SPHERES program with the help of a grant through the Massachusetts Afterschool Partnership. The SPHERES program, developed by MIT and NASA, engaged 10 summer groups across the state in computer programming, aeronautics, space science, and engineering.
Students programmed robots to maneuver through and obstacle course and then transmitted their programs to the International Space Station. Robots on the Space Station raced in a zero gravity environment, assisted by astronauts on board. The program had a few minor glitches along the way, but with the help of three space walks, astronauts were able to get the Space Station ready for the competition. East End House came in first place during simulation trials.
"It was fun," said 13-year-old Israel Gebremariam of East End House. "We got to talk with the astronauts on the space station and we learned a lot."
Students learned how to program the SPHERES robots with help from an MIT student mentor and East End House's Tim McIntosh. This was the first time that Zero Robotics was offered to middle-schoolers. The students worked three hours a day all summer to prepare for the competition.
YO! Summer is the first middle-school-specific summer program at East End House. The Middle School Afterschool Program is entering its third year of collaboration with the Kennedy-Longfellow School.
The community center's signature program, Generating and Evaluating New Adventures in Science After School (GENASAS), provides innovative science programming for sixth through eighth graders in out of school time. GENASAS focuses on all age groups at East End House to inspire Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) learning and prepare youths for careers in the 21st Century.
East End House develops original curriculum and partners with local entities, like Harvard University, MIT, Biogen Idec and NASA to develop innovative STEM experiences for youth. Documentation and dissemination of GENASAS' work is a part of how East End House seeks to affect the future of underserved populations in Cambridge and across the country.