LAKE CHARLES, La. (KLFY) — Schools in Jefferson Davis Parish are being provided with educational programs and school uniforms through funding from United Way of Southwest Louisiana. New school uniforms for Lake Arthur Elementary Schools have already been purchased, and a new STEM program has been funded by the nonprofit.

The Student Spaceflight Experiments Program is a STEM program funded by United Way for all middle and high school students in Jefferson Davis parish.

Students in Jefferson Davis parish from 5th grade to high school will have the opportunity to develop microgravity experiments for a national competition. Region 5 will now be provided with a flight-certified, microgravity research mini-laboratory for the competition. Students, working in teams, will research and propose an experiment in order to secure a spot on the actual flight into space.

“Developing children to their full potential is one of our high priorities,” said Denise Durel, President and CEO, United Way of Southwest Louisiana. “Investing in a child’s educational future takes many different forms. Academic success begins with having all of the tools necessary to learn and in these cases uniforms are what is needed for our smallest and STEM is needed for our youth.”

“This spaceflight competition is an incredible opportunity for our community,” says Durel. “Each winning experiment will be transported into space and returned to Earth after 4-6 weeks aboard the International Space Station. We know it will inspire a student to think about being a scientist, engineer or astronaut.”