HARLINGEN, Texas (KVEO)—Space X has some of the brightest minds working to get earthlings to Mars.
Before the planetary travel, the brightest stars are in schools at Rio Grande Valley schools, including Harlingen STEM² Preparatory Academy and South Texas ISD’s Science Academy.
At Harlingen STEM² Preparatory Academy inspiration is at every turn. Across the walls are pop-culture sci-fi posters and collectibles.
Superintendent Dr. Alicia Noyola tells KVEO, “Space X is a perfect example of to me of preparation meeting opportunity.”
The first variable of HCISD’s Space X success formula is rocket-star teachers such as language arts teacher Britany Johnson. In her class, she focuses on how to communicate effectively.
Translating out-of-this-world ideas from the STEM side and making it easy to understand is a challenge but some students shine.
“Patryk is unique and remarkable. He is wise beyond his years and his ability to problem solve and think outside the box and then communicate is incredible for a student of his age.” Johnson said of her student Patryk Zimny Garcia.
The eight-grader is a standout in the class and extracurricular studies. He’s fascinated with engines.
‘This semester he and classmates toured Space X’s rocket engine facility, “when you go there it’s amazing because it’s so much bigger in real life than it is ever on camera.” said Patryk “they look exactly like the car engine would but way more complex and just vertical instead of horizontal.”
Instructor Gabe Valdez is a 2002 graduate and is now teaching students with the possibility of them being recruited by Space X. “You hear things like that going to new places like California Florida but never in and maybe even Texas but not the RGV. It’s amazing to see something like that.”
Valdez’s senior students Olivia Garcia and Samantha Woo are quick learners and ready to show off their skills with the district’s 3D printers and laser engravers.
“Our classes are so rigorous, to the point of wherever you want to go, whatever pathway you’re going to excel in those pathways,” said Woo while operating a 3D printer to make a dragon-themed cellphone holder.
Woo has her sights set on a career in medicine while her friend, Olivia, has Space X in mind.
Garcia is always looking toward efficiency and problem solving.
Her instructors typically give students a problem and they have to solve it or create something out of nothing, “and just that idea that they give us sparks. We go into the computer software that we learned in our freshman year.
We create what they’re thinking in their mind and we print them. then we have a physical representation of what thought was” said Garcia.
The students are years away from the possibility of Space X employment but the skills they’re learning today will build on the success towards tomorrow.