Angel MolinaVista del Sur 8th grader Angel Molina attended the NASA Robotics and Aviation Camp at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

Molina participated in the five-day Robotics Academy — one of three different programs offered at the camp. Her group, Team Raytheon, was challenged with the task of designing a robot that would survive on Mars. Team members were tasked with determining what the robot would look like, what functions it would serve, how it would collect data, and how much it would cost to build. The team used applications of science, technology, engineering, arts, math (STEAM), and coding to create their robot. “We had to find the degrees of rotations, calculate distance, and read and calculate in binary code,” Molina explained, “I learned the importance of how STEAM contributes to understanding our world. Her experience also helped her develop teamwork and leadership skills.

Molina visited the many exhibits at the center where she learned about the timeline of space exploration as well as NASA’s future goals. She also had the opportunity to meet former astronaut Bob Springer (Discovery, Atlantis) who discussed his experience with the space program.

She was selected to attend Space Camp by the Gila River Indian Community’s Tribal Education Department after submitting an essay application and participating in a panel interview. “I’m honored I was picked to be part of this experience. I’ve made friends from around the country,” Molina said.

Molina prepared for her interview by practicing her speaking skills in front of the Parent Advisory Committee and the Arizona Indian Education Association (AIEA) Youth Conference at the University of Arizona last year.