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Students Learn About Outer Space from NASA Engineer

Learning about science and math took a unique twist for a group of St. Joseph students. They hosted a special guest - a real NASA engineer
(ST. JOSEPH, MO.) Learning about outer-space from a textbook is one thing, but learning about it from a real NASA engineer is another and that's just what students at Webster Gifted School had the chance to do.

Alicia Cianciolo is a NASA Aerospace Engineer who designs satellites and rovers to explore our solar system.

Cianciolo is part of a team that makes sure rovers land safely.

With her help, students were able to build their own rovers.

"The experiment was very fun to make our own little rovers obviously it didn't get to go in space but that's fine," says Josh Collier, a 5th grade student at Webster.

Students in the gifted robotics program were given a budget, mass and power limits and other constraints to build the rovers.

Teachers say the hands-on project is a fun way for students to learn and play with numbers and figures.

The project also inspires the next generation of female engineers.

"It gives our girls an extra push too because it is harder to get the girls into the science programs. It gives them a sense that somebody else knows how to do this too and I don't have to be afraid to learn what I want to learn," says Ashley Jevorutsky, Robotics teacher at Webster Learning Center.

"I sort of struggle with math so this is helpful to know all the little details and steps to it. I thought it was cool to understand what was really happening," says Hailey Madison, a 5th grade student at Webster Learning Center.

Cianciolo says it took her team 10 years to build the rover Curiosity, which launched in 2012.
 
She says it's important for students to learn trial and error with science and math and to know there's never a wrong answer.

"There's so many challenging aspects of it but you want to teach it in a fun way that keeps them really engaged and wanting to learn more," says
Alicia Cianciolo, NASA engineer.

Cianciolo has been apart of almost every mission to mars including the Odyssey Orbiter, Exploration Rovers and the Reconnaissance Orbiter.

She works from a home office in Cosby - about 20 minutes northeast of St. Joseph.
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