HAMPTON, Va. - After spending six months learning and communicating via the web, 170 rising high school seniors from across Virginia will finish an intensive aerospace education program by planning a mission to Mars during week-long summer academies at NASA Langley Research Center.
Students are part of the Virginia Aerospace Science and Technology Scholars (VASTS) sixth year program, an interactive, online science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) learning experience that offers student participants workforce experience as well as college credit. VASTS academies will be held June 23 - June 29, July 7 - 13 and July 21 - 27.
"We give the students the opportunity to learn and develop the tools and skills necessary to be successful in the future STEM and aerospace workforce," said Amber Agee-DeHart, VASTS program manager.
While at NASA, scholars will use what they learned online by designing and implementing plans for a human mission to Mars. They will also tour various facilities, build and test robotic rovers, and work with NASA mentors and subject matter experts, teachers, and undergraduate interns.
During their week, scholars will be divided into five teams: mission integration, mission transit, human factors, science and surface operations, and the academy's first strategic communications team. Each team plays a vital role in planning a successful mission to Mars.
The VASTS program, modeled after the High School Aerospace Scholars program designed at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Texas, is a partnership between the Virginia Space Grant Consortium and NASA Langley Research Center with assistance from the Virginia Department of Education.
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