Last year, roughly one-third of 2023 Merion Mercy graduates expressed their intention to major in a STEM discipline in college. Many of those girls were undoubtedly inspired and encouraged by science teacher Ben York, who also serves as the advisor for MMA’s STEM club. This year, under the umbrella of the STEM club, an MMA Space Team was formed.
Earlier this month, the team hosted students from Waldron Mercy Academy and made star chart projectors out of LittleBits electronic building kits. Mr. York explains that both schools are participating in the K-12 NASA Sparx program and will be partnering in a data collection for NASA involving experiments for growing crops in space. In addition to design challenges, the students also have opportunities to connect with engineers and astronauts. Recently, the MMA Space team met virtually with Stu McClung, the program manager and risk analyst for NASA's Artemis program and Orion mission. McClung detailed their plans for putting the first woman, as well as the first person of color, on the moon in 2025. Mr. York says, “Our students got a real kick out of asking him both complex and funny questions during the Q&A session.”
Looking ahead, Mr. York hopes for additional astronomy-themed STEM collaborations with Waldon Mercy, as well as multiple virtual meetings with NASA experts and astronauts from inside the International Space Station. A virtual March event will include “NASA Internships." A stargazing event at a local observatory is also a goal and one day he’d love to launch a student built rocket from campus.
- Merion Mercy Academy