Gutierrez Middle School instructor teaches science in practice

Cesar Gonzalez, 36, teaches integrated science and a Project Lead the Way course called “Flight and Space” at Gutierrez Middle School of Arts and Sciences. Courtesy photo

HARLINGEN — Making s’mores is easy.

Just build a solar powered oven and pop them in.

Stumped?

Just ask Cesar Gonzalez’s integrated science students at Gutierrez Middle School of Arts and Sciences, and they’ll show you how to do it.

“At GMS, our focus is to provide a pathway for students to explore STEM endorsements that align and prepare our students for high school and college,” said Gonzalez, 36.

Gonzalez started out as a technician at Gutierrez four years ago before becoming a teacher just this year.

He now wears two hats: that of teacher as well as technician. He not only teaches integrated science but also a Project Lead the Way course called “Flight and Space.”

In the integrated science courses, he and other science instructors focus on different forms of renewable energy. Those renewable energy sources include bio fuels, hydroelectric power, natural gases, hydrogen gas, nuclear power, solar power, tidal and wave energy and even wind energy.

“With Flight and Space, we talk about real world experiences that they’re doing right now such as SpaceX in our back yard in Boca Chica,” said the 2003 graduate of Harlingen High School.

“We have learned a lot about the great things they’re doing at SpaceX and the future of innovative technology and pushing that space exploration,” he said.

To keep his students engaged in the topic of space exploration, he keeps the Lab Padre live cam on throughout the day. The cam is aimed directly at the SpaceX Boca Chica Launch Facility.

“I have that pulled up every single day, that way they see what’s going on,” said the married father of three children.

“We talk a lot about space as well,” he said. “We talk about Mars; we talk about rovers, the International Space Station, and the history of flight in space. The history of how it all began as far as with the Wright brothers designing that airplane. The history and the knowledge and the foundation of space and flight is what we go over.”

Gonzalez said he enjoys coming in to work every day to give his students exposure to the STEM subjects.

“I enjoy helping them pick their passion, get better at their skill set, and continue to help them get better as far as high school,” he said.

twhitehead@valleystar.com