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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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Students showcase experiments, rockets and solar cars on July 22

Middle school students in the Las Cruces area will showcase their summer engineering projects during the Las Cruces Prefreshman Engineering Program (PREP) Fun Day! Tuesday, July 22, at New Mexico State University.

s from the Gadsden Independent School District and the Hatch Valley and Las Cruces Public Schools will launch rockets, race solar cars and launch, fly and recover experiments to be carried aloft on a high-altitude balloon.

Weather permitting the high-altitude balloon will be launched between 7 and 8 a.m. on the south side of Aggie Memorial Stadium. The rocket launch and the solar car race will be at 9:30 a.m. at the Horseshoe, along with other activities.

During the day, students, family and staff will enjoy food and activities such as soccer and basketball. The Horseshoe is located on Espina Street on campus.

"PREP is a very intense academic program; it's like going to school," said Richard Fischer, PREP's director. "But because it's their summer vacation we would like to make it a little more interesting than just going to school."

Connie Bao, 14, will be one of many students launching, flying and recovering an experiment on board a high-altitude balloon.

"We wanted to take bacteria up high to see its reaction to the change in atmospheric pressure and temperature," said Bao, a recent Camino Real Middle School student and a future freshman at Franklin High School in El Paso.

The PREP III student wants to be a forensic scientist and credits the program for some of her success in mathematics and science.

"The program has really helped me succeed in my classes, and has helped me understand math and science better," she said. Bao has skipped two grade levels in math and one in science.

Las Cruces PREP is a seven-week, academically intense summer program designed to prepare pre-college students for careers in science, engineering and mathematics. The three-level program incorporates academics with hands-on activities and field trips. For summer 2003, the program accepted 140 students.

To participate in the free program, students may begin as early as the sixth grade and attend for three years prior to college entrance. They must have an overall 3.0 grade point average, a 3.0 in their mathematics course and in either their science or English course. They also must submit an application.

The program is part of a national consortium of Hispanic Institutions called Proyecto Access, which is funded by NASA through the University of Texas at San Antonio.

Other contributing sponsors include the Intel Foundation, the Hewlett Foundation, the Jerome and Joyce Cutler Shaw Foundation, Las Cruces Roadrunner Transportation, the Gadsden Independent School District and the Hatch Valley Public Schools.

For more information on Fun Day! and PREP, contact Fischer at (505) 522-9114.