The Loop Newspaper - Tehachapi's Online Community News & Entertainment Guide

By Tina Fisher Cunningham
Fisher Forde Media 

STEAM Center: Students fly the Space Shuttle

The Forde Files No. 181

 

December 22, 2018

Tina Fisher Cunningham

Tehachapi High School students Charles Johnson (l) and Joshua Kachirski get flying tips from four-time Space Shuttle pilot C.J. Sturckow in an actual simulator at Tehachapi's STEAM Center that was used for NASA training, complete with original manuals.

The Tehachapi STEAM Center is a 21st Century resource that is ready to open a world of technology and art to local students, but for one little detail.

There's not enough electricity going into the building to power the 12 high-capacity computers, the Space Shuttle simulator, the virtual reality arena, the 3-D printer, the augmented reality sandbox and lights. The number of computers will soon double. There are four electric outlets inside the facility.

"The building has 100 amps going in," STEAM Center board member Thane Lundberg said. "We need to double that. It will cost $42,000. The Air Force has donated $10,000. We need $32,000 more."

When it is sufficiently powered and staffed with adult volunteers, the Center will provide an attractive retreat for students every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

In addition to electricity and adult volunteers, the Center needs an experienced grant writer.

STEAM is the acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts/Agriculture and Mathematics. The Center is a manufactured building on the Tehachapi High School campus, adjacent to the unused agriculture structures, which organizers hope to annex as the Center expands.

While the Center is located on the THS campus, it will serve public, charter, private and home school students.

Virgin Galactic/Quasar Media 2018

Sturckow (r) and Mark Stucky emerge from SpaceShipTwo at the Mojave Air and Space Port on Dec. 13 following their successful suborbital flight

The STEAM Center is just one of many projects that a handful of dedicated volunteers have developed under the nonprofit umbrella of the Arts, Science & Technology Educational Corporation of Tehachapi (AST). Founded in 2009, and functioning quietly and steadily in the community, AST has wrangled $800,000 from sponsors to support an impressive array of youth-oriented science and art activities in addition to the STEAM Center, including (selected from a list of 34 accomplishments): Annual Intermediate Space Challenge for 5th and 6th graders (rocketry); $85,000 to Tehachapi Society of Pilots to purchase a kit aircraft that high school students are building; mobile astronomy centers; supplies for wood shop and ceramics classes; 16 digital cameras for photography class; $100,000 to hire a THS engineering teacher and reinstate upper division engineering courses at THS; supplies for Jacobsen Middle School, Valley Oaks Charter, Tompkins, Cummings Valley and Carden schools; solar eclipse event.

 
 

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