Ronald Sanchez thought it was a joke when his high school teacher told him his name would be on NASA's Perseverance rover heading straight to Mars. To his surprise, it was true.
A couple of years ago, science teacher Alejandro Mundo, 29, approached his astronomy class at Kingsbridge International High School in the Bronx, New York, with an exciting idea proposed by NASA: His 25 students could send their names, stenciled on chips, to Mars on the rover created to pave the way for humans to explore the red planet.
The opportunity created a personal connection for his predominantly Latino students and the historic space mission. It also engaged the students in science — a field that is still underrepresented when it comes to Latinos, according to a recent Pew Research Center report
Latinos and Blacks are only 8 percent and 9 percent of people in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) occupations, respectively. Current trends in STEM degrees appear unlikely to substantially narrow those gaps, according to the report.