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UTEP’s NASA Science, Engineering, Mathematics and Aerospace Academy to host Family Café


UTEP’s NASA Science, Engineering, Mathematics and Aerospace Academy to host Family Café


What: SEMAA Family Café – a day where families learn about STEM fields by making balloon hovercrafts, canister rockets and rubber band helicopters, and by participating in a life-sized Angry Birds slingshot.

When: 9:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. Saturday, April 25, 2015

Where: TecH2O Center, 10751 Montana Ave.

On Saturday, April 25, The University of Texas at El Paso's College of Engineering and the NASA Science, Engineering, Mathematics and Aerospace Academy (SEMAA) will host a Family Café. The interactive forum will provide educational and parenting information for adult caregivers and other supportive adult role models while students participate in activity workshops related to STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) concepts.?

The Family Café is free and open to the public. SEMAA students, students with learning disabilities, students in deaf education programs and Girl's Summer Camp participants are strongly encouraged to attend.

Doors open at 9:30 a.m. Donuts will be served. The first activity workshop is at 10 a.m. and the second activity workshop is at 10:30 a.m.

Jennifer Allred, project manager at NASA's White Sands Test Facility, will deliver the keynote address at 11 a.m. Allred has worked at the NASA White Sands Test Facility since 2000, first as a test engineer for space system propulsion before transitioning to project manager for several NASA and Department of Defense programs.

Lunch will follow at 11:30 a.m. The third activity workshop will take place at 12:15 p.m.

Throughout the day, students will engage in NASA-based demonstrations through hands-on activities such as making balloon hovercrafts, canister rockets and rubber band helicopters.

Family involvement is an important component of the SEMAA project. One hundred families from Hillside Elementary School and Ross Middle School, among others, are projected to participate in this special event.

"This event serves to educate parents about the program and to provide information about available scholarships and resources at UTEP, NASA and other organizations," said Barbara Chessa, SEMAA program director at UTEP.

UTEP's Center for Space Exploration Technology Research (cSETR), American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), Society of Women Engineers and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics at UTEP (AIAA) will be participating in the event and providing information about their organizations to the young students and their families.

"The goals of SEMAA are to develop creativity, problem-solving skills and to inspire kids to pursue advanced studies in the STEM fields," Chessa said.

SEMAA is a nationally renowned progressive education program that was founded to inspire, engage and educate students, parents and communities.

After working with the UTEP SEMAA program for five years, SEMAA after-school teacher Blanche Herrera said, "This is one of the most worthwhile investments of my time and efforts I have encountered. SEMAA has created a place where young minds have an opportunity to explore, expand and enhance the world around them. It is a place where students can imagine a world where they can make a difference. It is a place where they can build their own future."

The UTEP SEMAA uses NASA-provided curriculum enhancement activities in schools and camps sessions to stimulate conceptual learning that builds math and science proficiency.

To learn more about the UTEP NASA Science, Engineering, Mathematics and Aerospace Academy, visit


The University of Texas at El Paso
College of Engineering
Engineering Building Room A148
500 W University Ave
El Paso, TX 79968

Phone: (915) 747-6444
Fax: (915) 747-5437

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