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Special project in the Nebula program provides enriched learning experience; appeals window for the program now open

Nebula students working with LEGO kit(01/20/2023) Students in Nebula, a school-within-a-school program for third through fifth grade gifted students at Eisenhower Elementary School, are utilizing elements from the NASA Mars 2020 mission to engage in enriched learning experiences that provide real world context to various coding and research skills.

Thanks in part to a Anoka-Hennepin Educational Foundation (AHEF) grant for LEGO® kits, drones, robots, and a 3D printer, the students at each grade level have the opportunity to participate in a unique project. Through these hands-on experiences the students are developing collaboration skills, technical reading skills, problem solving skills, perseverance, and adaptability.

  • Third graders are applying learned coding skills to a simulated mission where their LEGO® Education rover travels on the surface of Mars. 
  • Fourth graders are focusing on the Mars 2020 Ingenuity helicopter mission and understanding how the atmosphere of Mars affects flying any propeller-based aircraft. They will apply their programming skills by coding a drone to fly around obstacles. 
  • Fifth-grade students will contemplate what it would take to colonize Mars in the future. As a culminating activity, students will code a robot to travel around a colony they design in CAD programming software.

Nebula is a talent development program which provides a core curriculum specialized in supporting acceleration by compacting and extending Minnesota academic standards while still providing differentiated learning experiences that foster curiosity, exploration, and academic growth.

Each winter, parents/guardians of Anoka-Hennepin students who meet the Nebula program selection criteria (performing in the top 1-2 percentile across multiple measures in comparison to their peers) are directly contacted to inform them of this programming option for the following school year. 

The appeals window is now open for students who do not meet the criteria, or live outside the district, through Friday, Feb. 17. Students considered are those who consistently score in the 98-99 percentile in math and reading. For more information on the application process and to apply, visit