A group of Uplift Summit International Preparatory students posing a group picture on July 19, 2023, in Arlington. (Juan Salinas II | Fort Worth Report)

A group of 20 Uplift Summit International students waited for its teacher to count down. 

“Three. Two. One,” said Yuri Sanchez, Uplift Education Texas Instructional Management Allotment coordinator. 

The rocket launched into the clear sunny sky. Once it returned to Earth, the students ran to the rocket to get it ready for the next launch. 

Uplift Summit in Arlington launched its inaugural space exploration program with the help of the Aldrin Family Foundation, preparing students to learn science and math for the school year. 

“It was a good experience learning about the pressure and how the water pressure makes the rocket go higher,” said Solyana Ases Fea, an upcoming Uplift Summit seventh grader. 

The camp focused on space exploration and showed students what it would be like to be an astronaut. The program aims to enrich the student’s understanding of the universe and Earth, said Deborah Bigham, Uplift Education’s Chief Development Officer. 

Students spent the week creating miniature Lego rovers, building moon habitats with cardboard and creating a virtual map of the moon through virtual sessions and in-person sessions that teachers handle.

The activities taught students about critical thinking, problem-solving skills, scientific exploration and creativity. 

“We also think space exploration is fun and this camp helped capture the imagination of our students,” Bigham said. “By teaching about space missions, discoveries, and the potential for future exploration, it inspires young minds to dream big and aspire to be part of the scientific community that drives space exploration forward.” 

The Lyda Hill Philanthropies gave the charter school $25,000 for the summer camp.

Sanchez and Vivan Carillo, a seventh grade science teacher, help students build their rockets and miniature Lego rovers during the week-long camp. 

They received training from a former director of education for NASA on how to run the camp. 

Tamara Philips, Uplift Summit Arlington assistant principal, was thrilled the charter school received funding from the Lyda Hill Philanthropies for the camp and hopes to bring the camp back next summer. 

“I think getting students excited about science and math while keeping the kids busy in the summer is a good thing,” Phillips said. 

Several students enjoy the activities at the camp but Anaya Stokes, an upcoming seventh grader, is ready for school to begin. 

“The summer has been boring. I’m ready to meet my friends and learn new things,” Stokes said. 

Editor’s note: This story was updated on Aug 2, 2023, to correct an inaccuracy on who funded Arlington’s Uplift Summit inaugural space exploration program.

Juan Salinas II is a reporting fellow for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at juan.salinas@fortworthreport.org or on Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

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Born and raised in the North Side of Fort Worth. Juan Salinas II is a reporting fellow. He is a Tarrant County College transfer student who is currently studying journalism at the University of Texas at...