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AFRL La Luz Academy
For the past two decades, AFRL New Mexico has invested millions of dollars in creating unique STEM education opportunities for kids all across New Mexico, through our AFRL La Luz Academy.
AFRL La Luz Academy is geared to engage students from elementary through high school and increase student interest in pursuing science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM)-related studies and career paths. We bring cutting edge technologies developed by the AFRL directorates into the classroom motivating students to study STEM in a hands-on way, while promoting and teaching Air Force Core Values.
AFRL La Luz Programs
Mars Missions Flight
The Mars Missions Flight provides fifth grade students an opportunity to plan and carry out a simulated manned mission to Mars. Their objective: To build a colony of habitats to sustain life on Mars.
After teachers attend a training session in the Fall, students work in teams in their classrooms during the school year on various activities that prepare them for the mission. The culminating activity for the Mars Missions Flight takes place in the Spring when over 1,000 students come together to complete their journey to Mars.
DoD STARBASE New Mexico
DoD STARBASE New Mexico is part of a national program that provides fifth grade students with an opportunity to explore physics, chemistry, technology, engineering, mathematics operations and applications, and STEM careers.
Students come to AFRL La Luz Academy for five non-consecutive, five-hour classes during the school year to engage in hands-on, mind-on STEM activities. Scientists, engineers and military volunteers from AFRL and other Kirtland Air Force Base organizations apply abstract principles to real world situations by giving interactive demonstrations on the use of STEM in different settings and careers.
The TECH Flight, for middle school students, occurs in three, five-hour classes at the AFRL La Luz Academy on Kirtland Air Force Base in either the Fall or Spring semester. Fall semester focuses on rocketry, while Spring semester addresses STEM applications related to satellites. Scientists and engineers from AFRL and other Kirtland Air Force Base organizations assist students as they explore STEM concepts in context.
Robot Systems Flight
The Robot Systems Flight provides an opportunity for middle school students to explore the basics of systems engineering and robotics by learning to assemble and program small wheeled robots called Boe-Bots®. Their objective: To program their Boe-Bot® to complete a series of increasingly challenging obstacle courses.
After teachers attend a training session during the Summer, students work in teams in their classrooms during the year on various activities that build the skills they’ll need to assemble and program their robots. Scientists and engineers from AFRL and other Kirtland Air Force Base organizations visit the classrooms to assist teachers and students. Students are invited to attend the optional Robotics Expo in the Spring where they demonstrate their programming abilities on the obstacle courses.
STEM Challenge Flight
The STEM Challenge Flight provides an opportunity for teams of three or four high school students to solve a technical problem involving a launching device, a payload protection device, and an egg payload.
Students complete several assignments that guide them as they work on developing their solution to the problem. Scientist and engineer mentors from the AFRL provide technical support and feedback to the student teams. At the culminating STEM Challenge Symposium event in the Spring, teams compete with their launching devices to earn the most points with their payload protection device.
AFRL La Luz Academy, in a joint project with Albuquerque’s KOB-TV (Channel 4) and Earth Networks (formerly AWS Convergence Technologies, Inc.), provides real-time weather data such as wind speed and direction, temperature, barometric pressure, and more to New Mexico schools through the Pinpoint WeatherNet program.
The Teacher Institute provides teachers with an opportunity to complete a team STEM project and participate in presentations given by STEM experts from the AFRL during this week-long activity conducted during the Summer.
Teachers prepare and give their own presentations on the last day to summarize their experiences and capture how they could apply what they learned back in their classrooms.
STEM Expeditions offer extracurricular groups such as Scout troops, Junior ROTC groups, Civil Air Patrol cadets, and Summer STEM Camp students an opportunity to engage in hands-on STEM activities such as flight simulation, robotics, and soldering a LED badge.
These short activities, typically one to two hours long, are scheduled as time and availability permit, and can be customized to address specific STEM concepts.