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New Mexico State University
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Regional Alliance Summer Science Institute (RASSI)

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Students used software to help design their robots

The RASSI institute is conducted each summer and offers high school students with disabilities the opportunity to explore the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields through hands-on activities and projects.  Themes vary annually and reflect current trends of interest in the STEM education and research fields.

Past themes include: satellite design, science field work, mathematics applications in biology, rocket design, hot air balloon physics,  robotics, and the design and assembly of canoes and bridges.



RASSI 2012 "Robot Revolution"

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Some modifications were needed

The 2012 Regional Alliance Summer Science Institute (RASSI) kicked off a full work of summer science fun and learning starting on June 11. The theme of this year's RASSI was "Robot Revolution" and was sponsored through a collaboration Reaching the Pinnacle (RTP) and the Southern New Mexico Science, Engineering, Mathematics, and Aerospace Academy (SNM SEMAA). This partnership brought together experts across various fields of science and learning and proved to be a great success.
In particular, high school students with a broad range of disabilities participated in building robots with NXT Lego Mindstorm kits. Not only did students learn how to build their own machines, but they participated in developing their own designs and programming to enhance their respective machines' performance for team competition. Students learned sportsmanship and cooperation as well as getting a hands-on feel for robotics, a growing field in education and the workforce.
What astounded the RTP staff in particular was how quickly the students adapted to new technologies. By the end of the week, the students were developing robots that exceeded the expertise of both teachers and RTP staff. Competitions included robots that raced, responded to external stimuli such as sound, and could navigate simple obstacle courses. Parents and other family members arrived on the final day to see for themselves the accomplishments the students had made and to enjoy a cookout dinner hosted by RTP.


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Almost done with the design
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Programming the robots
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Time to test
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A job well done










RASSI 2011 "Mean Green Science Machine"

The 2011 RASSI Summer Institute was held June 13-17 on the New Mexico State University Campus and featured all new experiments and hands-on projects for its participants. This year's theme was: "Mean Green Science Machine" and focused on the environment and different ways to recycle and reuse disposable goods. Students participated in a number of field trips, including a trip to the Aggie Recycling Center and the Las Cruces Wastewater Treatment Plant. Students learned about science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and performed experiments concerning solar power and the water filtration process. 

Also be sure to checkout the RTP Photo Gallery page for a slideshow on some of the RASSI events.

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A student filters contaminants out of water.
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A student works on a solar powered oven, grab the hotdogs!
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Who knew science was this much fun?



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Students learned how a solar oven can be used to warm food.
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Students planted seeds in the pots they designed.
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Students learned about the production of biofuels.



RASSI 2010 "A Science Smorgasbord"

RASSI 2010: A Science Smorgasbord, was held at the NMSU College of Engineering from June 14-18. Twenty two high school students participated and a good time was had by all.

The students learned about civil engineering, physics, chemistry, biology, rocketry and chemical engineering through a series of science demonstrations by NMSU faculty, engineers and rocketry hobbyists.  Students participated in many activities and designed and built their own rockets.  These activities all culminated on the final day at which awards were presented and a final cookout was held. Students learned hands-on applications of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and had a great time in the process.

Everyone involved had fun and made some new friends.

Below are photos of students in action at the 2010 RASSI institute.

RASSI Student with rocket
Participants worked hard to prepare their model rockets for launch the next day.
Image of RASSI student with electronic rocket launcher
Students study an electronic circuit board used to launch model rockets.
Image of RASSI student with her bridge.
A student shows off the model she designed, built, and tested during RASSI.
Image of rockets on launch pad
The Organ Mountains make a dramatic backdrop for these rockets as they sit on the launch pad ready to take flight.
Image of volunteer helping at rocket launch.
Here a volunteer instructs a student on how to rig an igniter to her rocket.
Image of Dr. Alexander burning hydrogen
Dr. Alexander, Professor Emeritus from NMSU's Chemistry Department, explains combustion during a demonstration.







"This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Continuing Grant No. HRD 0622930."

"Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material   are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation."

updated: April, 2012