New science center blasts off at WV State University’s Beckley site


New science center blasts off at WV State University’s Beckley site
NASA-themed lab is designed to encourage youth interest in science careers         

BECKLEY, W.Va. -- Kids in grades K-12 are invited to blast off into the science and technology fields with the NASA Science, Engineering, Mathematics and Aerospace Academy (SEMAA) at West Virginia State University. The program launched at WVSU last year and is celebrating its permanent Beckley location, called the Aerospace Educational Laboratory, with a grand opening on Tuesday, April 24, from 4-6 p.m.               

NASA SEMAA is an innovative national project designed to increase participation and retention of underrepresented youths in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The program is offered free for interested youths via day-camp scenarios throughout the year.               

“With this AEL location, we now have a wealth of educational opportunities and hands-on activities for our participants,” says Dedriell Taylor, SEMAA Site Director, who also manages an AEL site on WVSU’s campus in Institute, near Charleston. The Beckley AEL will offer program space that features 12 interactive sites focusing on a variety of science-related activities.               

WVSU launched the NASA SEMAA program last year through its Center for the Advancement of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (CASTEM) with a series of seven-week interactive educational sessions for kids in K-12. Sessions during the academic year are held on Saturday mornings and include lessons taught by trained instructors, as well as hands-on experiments on topics such as microgravity, space exploration, weather patterns, planetary exploration and remote sensing. Summer programs are held in weeklong sessions.               

WVSU SEMAA is a partnership with the NASA Office of Education and the National SEMAA Office at Paragon-TEC. With locations in both Charleston and Beckley, West Virginia is the only state in the nation to have two AEL facilities.              

The Beckley AEL is located at 201 Pinecrest Plaza South, 201 Grey Flats Road. For more information about NASA SEMAA and the AEL sites, contact Dedriell Taylor, SEMAA Site Director, at 304.380.2551.

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