This IS Rocket Science – The Podcast

Columbia Space Initiative’s (CSI) all-new, in-house produced space podcastThis IS Rocket Science, created by Henry Manelski now contributes to the overall partnership between Sophie Gerson Healthy Youth and Columbia University.

Flight Training

The first Rocket Science episode was released October 21st to Spotify, with neary weekly episodes following.  Click on the episode you’d like to hear on the media player above.

SGHY’s partnership with Columbia University further enhances the student experience with SGHY programs. Sophie Gerson received her Masters Degree in Education from Teachers College. Today, SGHY  collaborates with the Department of Athletics, the Department of Science, and the Engineering School. These collaborations provide role models, mentorship, inspiration, and college aspirations to SGHY middle school students.

In athletics: Collegiate athletes and coaches go to our schools to conduct clinics in their respective sports, complementing SGHY’s programs in those sports. We also bring our middle school athletes up to campus to attend varsity games and then meet with the Columbia Team Members. The University has hosted SGHY athletic events and tournaments on campus, giving middle school students a feel for what it’s like to play as a college athlete. The Athletics Department has also launched the annual Women Sports Convocation, in which 75 SGHY middle school athletes go to campus for a breakfast and symposium, with one-on-one engagement with female college athletic team members. 
Thus far, SGHY has conducted the above activities with the following Columbia teams and clubs: Men’s Tennis; Women’s Basketball; Volleyball; Field Hockey; Badminton, and Soccer. As an example, prior to COVID, the highlight of the SGHY tennis program consisted of the tennis tournament at the Dick Savitt Tennis Center. Coach Howie Endelman created a one-day event which brought home to our students the life lessons of tennis and left our budding players determined to make tennis their sport for life. Our middle school tennis players played each other in a tournament, giving them a taste of what it’s like to play as a college athlete, starting with the national anthem and “Roar Lions,” followed by play on collegiate courts, and a medal ceremony. Then Coach Howie came out with several team members to engage and inspire the middle schoolers. He and the team members took Q & A, then tennis team members played an exhibition game while our students rooted for “their” respective teams; then our middle schoolers played round robin with the tennis team members.
The enthusiasm and excitement of the middle school students from their collegiate encounters is palpable and impactful!
In Science: SGHY involves University undergraduate and graduate students and faculty in two SGHY Hands-On Science Programs: Space Science (the Comprehensive Aerospace, Aviation, & Engineering Program, funded by Con Edison), and Environmental Science. Our Space Science collaboration involves the Columbia Space Initiative (CSI), the Department of Astronomy, and the Engineering School. CSI students conduct auditorium programs in our schools. The first: Introduction to Air & Space Flight. After an interactive presentation on the history of flight, CSI students work individually with the middle schoolers to construct paper airplanes to aerospace specifications which the students then aim to take down drones that CSI fly overhead. Later in the school year, students design and build model rockets which they shoot off under CSI direction on Launch Day. The collaboration continues in the summer, with CSI students going to camp in the Poconos where they guide campers to explore the cosmos through the telescopes SGHY and CSI provide – with middle school amazement at seeing the Moon’s craters and the rings of Saturn up close. In addition, Engineering Professor and former astronaut Mike Massimino regales our students with his life story of overcoming challenges to become an astronaut and his experiences in space. Our middle school students assist CSI members in their experiments, including analyzing or categorizing data from the International Space Station. Students in SGHY’s immersion program also go up to Columbia for nighttime astronomy viewing and daytime rotation through CSI activities in a “spaceposium” and through Engineering School Laboratories, where they engage in hands-on exercises guided by professors. No doubt that this experience has inspired future scientists, engineers, pilots, and astronauts!
Columbia has also supplemented SGHY’s environmental science program. That program has culminated with a field trip to the Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory for hands-on exercises in geologic, environmental, and climatic science. One girl exclaimed at the conclusion that “now I feel that I can grow up to become something important, like a scientist.”
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