Its students are going head-to-head against teams from four-year universities in scientific competitions and winning -- for the caliber of their research, team work and sheer effort.
"They win as much as the cooking students do," said
Most recently, seven KCC students built a hot-pink "CanSat," or cannister satellite, and trekked to
"We were really excited that the egg didn't crack," said
The students were judged not just for their performance on launch day in June but for eight months of work on the project, including their preliminary design presented in a 100-page document and via teleconference in January; an intensive review of their work in March; and a post-flight analysis.
"This was the first time that an American team placed in the top five in the last two years, and to have it be a community college ..." said
The victory in
KCC has been pioneering new approaches to science education, emphasizing undergraduate research and collaboration. The college piloted a new associate of science degree in natural science in 2007 that has grown exponentially, from 43 students pursuing that major in 2008 to 297 this year, according to
"The opportunity to work firsthand on research projects is really important because the only way to get kids to be scientists is to have them doing science," Pagotto said. "We have a very robust undergraduate research program."
The STEM Center on campus gives students a place to gather and work in a common area ringed by faculty offices. (STEM stands for Science, Engineering, Technology and Mathematics.) KCC also offers a
"I think the STEM Center is probably the key," said CanSat crew member
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