Virginia High School Students Engage in Aerospace Exploration

As the Rover Curiosity travels across the surface of Mars, Virginia high school students are able to explore careers and opportunities in the aerospace industry, including Mars studies, with the Virginia Aerospace Science and Technology Scholars (VASTS) program, an interactive on-line science, technology, engineering and mathematics learning experience highlighted by a seven-day residential summer academy at NASA Langley Research Center (LaRC) in Hampton, Virginia. In this competitive program, students selected to participate are immersed in NASA-related research through interaction with scientists, engineers and technologists.

At the summer academy, which recently concluded in early August 2012, students were grouped into four teams; Getting There, Living There, Working There, and Mission Integration. Teams worked collaboratively to design a feasible human mission to Mars. At the end of the week at NASA Langley Research Center they presented details of their mission to NASA scientists, engineers, and technologists in addition to aerospace industry representatives during a Mission Design Review Panel and then to NASA administrators, state legislators, parents, and other VIPs at the Closing Ceremony.

Students were eligible to receive up to four college credits, at no cost to them, from Thomas Nelson Community College depending upon their successful completion of the online course and Summer Academy program.

The program is a partnership between the Virginia Space Grant Consortium and NASA Langley Research Center with assistance from the Virginia Department of Education. Online application for the 2012-2013 program is available beginning today.

Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics is one of 16 Career Clustersâ„¢ designed to provide students with relevant contexts for studying and learning. Career Clustersâ„¢ link school-based learning with the knowledge and skills required for success in the workplace.

More information about the Virginia Aerospace Science and Technology Scholars Program

The colorized shaded relief map of Gale Crater (pictured), shows the general landing area for Curiosity on the northwestern crater floor (accessed from Wikimedia). At the Academy, as students design a feasible human mission to Mars, we can all share in the rover Curiosity’s first steps in a mission that will someday help prepare for human exploration.

Ramona Schescke, Member Services Manager


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