The WEX Foundation, located in San Antonio, was established to advance middle and high school education in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) subjects by integrating space exploration technology with project-based learning, with the ultimate goal of creating a robust space technology workforce that will enable people to live on other planets.
“We have a pretty exciting line up for this year’s annual student showcase,” said Samuel W. Ximenes, Founder and Board Chair. “In June we will launch a high altitude balloon with a payload of student designed and built science measurement instruments.” Ximenes said a rocket launch to 1 mile altitude with another payload compliment of student designed science instruments is also planned. A robotics demonstration of vehicles designed and constructed to simulate how they would work on the lunar surface and acquire environmental data on the surface and in lunar caves, is also in the works. “It will be a festive day with the public invited,” said Ximenes.
The Foundation’s focus is to promote science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education for K-12 curriculum development; improving STEM teaching and student comprehension in school districts and areas where students have been traditionally under-served and under-represented in institutions of higher education; to prepare and encourage low-income, first-generation college-bound students and students with disabilities to pursue higher education and careers in human space exploration.
One of the goals for the Foundation this year is to get one of their student science instruments on one of the commercial lunar landers NASA has recently contracted with to provide delivery services to the moon through their CLPS program. “Having our proposal selected as one of the science instrument payloads would be a major achievement for us,” said Ximenes.
Students can be involved in a number of programs at WEX including Lunar Caves Analog Test Sites (LCATS) and Lunar Ecosystem and Architectural Prototype (LEAP2). LCATS is a NASA funded Space-STEM learning curriculum. The LCATS program environment engages a pipeline of motivated middle and high school students selected from San Antonio, Texas area school districts to assist aerospace professionals solve real-world space exploration technology development challenges through investigations of science experiments, space exploration mission operations, technology development, and habitability system architectures for Space-STEM learning performance.
“We are always seeking new ways to promote the LCATS program and the adventure of a career in space exploration,” said Ximenes. “One of our marketing videos for LCATS was awarded a National Science Foundation Facilitators Choice Recognition in their 2018 STEM FOR ALL VIDEO SHOWCASE annual event. See video: (http://stemforall2018.videohall.com/presentations/1300).
Ximenes said they will likely produce another video this year that will have more focus on the student accomplishments and hands-on projects they have been involved with. “We also will be accepting our 3rd cohort of new students into the program, beginning in the fall semester.”
Check out the WEX Foundation website here: https://www.wexfoundation.org/home.html