Sky’s the limit for science students


Computer lab with view of the sky inside the Tessman Planetarium.The Santa Ana College Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics program will receive about $530,000 a year to reach students and those from around the surrounding community.

The grant is directed toward low-income Hispanic students that are interested in careers in math and sciences at SAC.

“The whole idea is to increase the number of students with majors that fall under the STEM program, and to help them transfer or get degrees involving STEM majors,” said Steve Bautista who is a counselor, instructor and coordinator at the Center for Teacher Education.

Bautista said the grant would provide students counseling and offer them hands on experience in various fields of study, ranging from mathematics to engineering.

The Tessmann Planetarium at SAC is also enjoying success of its own.

STEM and SAC student Patricia Sullivan was recently selected as a National Community College Aerospace Scholar and will travel to NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center to design and create a rover.

“Patricia has forged a bond between NASA and our college,” said Bob Menn, coordinator and program director at the planetarium. “It’s amazing what she has accomplished.”

The planetarium offers shows appealing to all age groups.

These include virtual tours of the universe that help explain the concept of outer space.

Menn said the shows are fun as well as informative, and have the power to leave an imprint on children’s lives.

“The shows leave a huge impression on kids. Sometimes we receive letters from kids informing us how much fun they had,” said Menn. “I once received a letter from a kid saying that seeing the show made him want to go to college.”

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The planetarium staff encourages students in STEM fields to see some of the presentations. “I see students during break outside just talking to each other. Instead of talking, they should make use of that hour and come to the planetarium to learn something,” said Menn.

Admission for SAC students and staff is free. Otherwise, morning shows cost $5. Evening shows cost $6.

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