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By Pat Doody 

AST presents check to School District


Members of the Board of Art, Science and Technology Educational Corporation (AST) presented TUSD with a check for $100,000 at the August 8 School Board meeting. The grant is to reinstate the Tehachapi High School Project Lead the Way (PLTW) engineering program that had been canceled for the 2017-2018 school year.

Last year AST received a $50,000 grant from the Bakersfield Californian and $20,000 from Tehachapi benefactors to build the Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Agriculture and Mathematics (STEAM) Center at Tehachapi High School. This $100,000 grant was made possible due to the work the group put into that STEAM Center.

AST Director Laura Lundberg explained that AST is a 501c(3) non-profit operated entirely by volunteers. Their mission is to "enable educators to enhance the classroom experience, supplement the core cirriculum and foster a creative atmosphere during the teaching and learning process." They raise money to fulfill teacher and administration requests and support STEM activities like the Intermediate Space Challenge, Destination Imagination, Science Olympiad and JMS LEGO Robotics.

Because of their work developing the STEAM Center at THS, AST attracted the attention of Foundation for the Carolinas and its head, Foster Stanback. When PLTW was cancelled last year, AST applied for and received the $100,000 grant from the Foundation in order to reinstate the program. They are also hoping that the Steam Center will enhance the PLTW program as well.

The amazing STEAM Center will include a Space Shuttle Simulator (only 10 in the US), a 3D Printer, an Augmented Reality Sandbox (topographical lines are projected onto the sand), a Virtual Reality lab, a laser jet printer, a large screen TV, overhead projector, and 12 networked high capacity computers. AST has contracted with an instructor from Colorado to assist with simulator training. The 3D printer was used to make over 500 parts for the simulator saving approximately $3000.

AST is currently turning four 1969 Airstream trailers into mobile astronomy labs equipped all with day and night telescopes with computer controls and displays; each at a cost of about $130,000. The intent is to turn Tehachapi into a Southern California Astronomy Center of Excellence. They have four solar telescopes and will be purchasing 2200 pairs of safe solar eclipse viewing glasses approved by NASA for use during the upcoming solar eclipse.

Plans are in the works for a Build a Rocket program and, with the Tehachapi Society of Pilots, a build a plane program. The latter will be funded by an $85,000 grant. The plane will be built by students and used by the TSP for low-cost flight instruction.

Lundberg said that with all of this activity, AST will be needing many volunteers for all aspects of the varied programs. All that is needed is a desire to be a part of these exciting adventures. For more information on volunteer opportunities, contact Laura Lundberg at


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