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David Laughlin, science teacher at Canon City High School is first to bring SystemsGo to Colorado.

Nov 30, 2019–When you launch rockets you can’t always know where they will make an impact, both literally and figuratively.

Over the years, students and teachers have contacted SystemsGo to find out how to start the innovative STEM program in their own schools. The most recent of these is David Laughlin, the science teacher (and football special teams coordinator) at Canon City High School in Colorado.

Laughlin came across the program while at the Space Exploration Educators Conference (SEEC) Conference at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. He visited the SystemsGo booth, where he met with Joyce Abbey and saw a presentation by Kirk Moore and his Anahuac High School SystemsGo students.

“This group of students went through the entire SystemsGo process and I became more than intrigued with the program,” Laughlin recalled.

The Colorado teacher spent two years trying to figure out how to bring it to his high school of 1100 students, tucked into the Rocky Mountains west of Pueblo. He finally received some grant money, and is happy to announce the program will be piloted in his school in the spring of 2020. To say he is excited is an understatement.

“I’ve loved space since I was a small kid, and when I learned about SystemsGo I had that same feeling as when I was young, but this time it was for my students,” Laughlin said. “Growing up in a small town, it is easy to get the mindset that certain things are not available. I wanted to bring the program here to open up the world of engineering. I want them to know that world is available to them.”

Colorado is a special place for space exploration, as it is home to both Estes Rockets and the Space Foundation. Offering SystemsGo will open up opportunities to collaborate even more closely with them. The community is ready to pitch in as well.

“They are willing to help in any way they can,” he said. “Our school is blessed with many amazing partners over the course of time that want to be involved.”

Laughlin hopes that a successful introduction of SystemsGo will help other Colorado communities see the benefits of adopting the curriculum. The word is already getting out. He cites the adoption of SystemsGo as one of the reasons Canon City High School recently won the Colorado Succeeds prize of $15,000. The school already has infrastructure in place that complements a rocketry program, including an in-school machine shop, welding facilities, and established CAD program.

“More than anything else, I want to open up the minds and hearts of students,” Laughlin said. “Through this program, we can show them they can enter these fields of engineering and aerospace. Nothing is closed off to them simply because they happen to grow up in a small community.”