E. Texas middle-schoolers get hands-on training for careers

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Programming robots and analyzing a crime scene are just a couple of ways East Texas students are honing their math and science skills.

Select 7th and 8th graders from across East Texas are participating in the iMAS Academy, a program geared to prepare them for college and various career paths.

Ninety-five students handpicked from five East Texas school districts are spending the week investigating math and science at the iMAS academy.

SFA S.T.E.M. faculty partnered with master teachers from Central, Hudson, Lufkin, Nacogdoches and Woden to develop a curriculum involving different science topics.

"They're really getting to see how mathematics and science are married, how mathematics is the language in which the sciences are written," said Kimberly Childs, the dean of Colleges of Sciences and Mathematics at SFA.

Students go through five different modules of study including forensic lab, ER simulation, robotic challenges, solar system study and water assessment.

"You get to be in groups with other people and learn about a bunch of different math and science things," said eighth grader Madyson Smithart.

Smithart says she has enjoyed taking vital signs during ER simulation because it's just a sample of the career she hopes to pursue.

"I already had an idea for a nursing career because I want to be a physical therapist assistant," Smithart said.

Eighth grader Daniel Campos says the program is helping him to sharpen his math skills.

"I enjoy trying to figure out the equation," Campos said.

Working in the crime solvers module, the students try to figure out a crime, by using high school level trigonometry.

"I feel like it would help me out a lot later in the future," Campos said. 

It's the first year of the program and officials say it's to encourage students to start thinking about college early and pursuing careers in science and math fields.

"Students will go out into the communities and get those S.T.E.M. careers and really push our area and our state and our nation forward," Childs said.

Copyright 2012 KTRE. All rights reserved.