NASA 50th Anniversary Essay Competition
NASA 50th Anniversary Essay Competition: A joint effort between NASA's Innovative Partnerships Program and the Office of Education

The NASA 50th Anniversary Essay Competition for middle and junior high school students during the 2007-2008 academic year. Image Credit: NASA

The Innovative Partnerships Program at NASA Headquarters, in conjunction with the Office of Education, announces the NASA 50th Anniversary Essay Competition for middle and junior high school students during the 2007-2008 academic year. The essay competition consists of two separate topics each with a limit of 500 words. The first topic challenges students to describe how they benefit in their everyday lives from aerospace technologies built by NASA over the last 50 years. The second topic requires students to imagine how their everyday lives will have changed because of NASA aerospace technology years into the future. Complete details for the competition can be found below.

NASA 50th Anniversary Essay Competition
Part of NASA's mission is to inspire the next generation of engineers, scientists and explorers. Our hope is that the essay competition will inspire and encourage middle school students to continue with science and engineering in high school, college and beyond. The essay competition asks middle school students to write an essay, 500 words or less, in response to one of the following topics:

Topic #1
Describe how you benefit today in everyday life due to NASA aerospace technology and spinoffs from the last 50 years.
Utilize research material found on the NASA Spinoff and NASA Techbriefs Web sites to determine NASA technologies that are common place in everyday life.

Topic #2
Describe, 50 years from now, how your everyday life may benefit from NASA's future aerospace technology.
Utilize research material found at the NASA Spinoff Web site to get an idea of NASA technologies that you may use in your everyday life today. Then go to NASA mission Web pages to see what type of technologies NASA is working on for the future. The technologies that you find here span a few years into the future so you must use your imagine to determine what other technologies will be developed in the next 50 years. Then in an essay response of no longer than 500 words describe the technology developments over the next 50 years and how you anticipate they may benefit your daily life.

Students may submit two separate essays, each responding to a separate topic, if they so choose. For specific details on entry requirements, see the following sections. Links to NASA Web sites are listed below in the "Resources" section.

Due Dates:
The Competition Opens on October 15, 2007
Notice of Intent* December 7, 2007
Final Entry Is Due on or Before January 7, 2008

*A notice of intent is appreciated but not required for essay submissions. The notice of intent tells NASA that you plan to enter the competition. This helps us to determine how many reviewers we need for the final entries.

The notice should be emailed and should include the following details:

Subject line: NASA 50th Anniversary Essay Competition

Body of message contents:
Essay topic
Student's name
School's name
Teacher's name
Name and location of school (city and state)
Type of school (public, private or home school)
Grade level of student (6, 7, 8 or 9)
E-mail address for student and teacher

Any U.S. student enrolled in an accredited middle school, junior high school or home school (under the age of 15) in the U.S. or its territories is eligible to enter the competition for cash prizes. Non-U.S. citizens and students in international locations can enter as well, but they are not eligible for cash prizes. Trophies and certificates will be awarded to each winner, regardless of citizenship.

Each entry must be sponsored by a teacher, parent or guardian, or other adult mentor associated with the student's education. This means that a responsible adult must review and approve the student entry before it is submitted to NASA. The adult should also affirm that the student did the research and writing themselves.

Students can search the IPP Web site found at  → and associated websites such as the NASA Spinoff Web site found at  → for detailed information on NASA technologies that have been transferred into everyday life. Students with help from their mentor can learn about technologies that are currently being produced at NASA by searching the Web site  →.

For information about what future technologies NASA will be building to travel to the moon and Mars, students can read and view pictures and videos on NASA's new Vision for Space Exploration at An overview of future NASA aeronautics technology development can be found at  →. A video describing how NASA Earth science data may possibly improve everyday life in 20 years can be found at  →.

For those interested in learning more about the science, engineering and mathematics of NASA technologies, there are a variety of links located at  → and focused on education. Students can find more background information from periodicals such as Scientific American, Popular Science, Popular Mechanics, Aviation Week, SAE Aerospace Engineering online, AIAA publications, etc.

Students should consult with their school English teacher to make sure their entries are well written and references are noted appropriately.

Submission Requirements
Note: Student submissions shall be treated as being free of restrictions and limitations on their use, reproduction and publication.

  • Title page listing: Should list essay topic, student's name, school's name, teacher's name, complete mailing address of school, type of school (private, public or home school), grade level, and complete email and phone contact information for student and teacher.
  • All papers must be submitted digitally as MS Word or Adobe PDF documents. Hard copies will be accepted only from schools or students that do not have access to the necessary software, and arrangements must be made in advance for hard copy submission.
  • Individual entries: No more than 500 words, typed, double-spaced, 12-pt. font, one-side only, will be accepted. The 500 word limit requirement excludes title page. All pages should be numbered in the lower right-hand corner.
  • Digital copies of file-size 10 megabytes or less should be sent via e-mail attachment to Subject line: NASA 50th Anniversary Essay Competition
Please copy the information from your title page into the e-mail message.

E-mail Submission Example:
From: Name of sender
Subject line: NASA 50th Anniversary Essay Competition
Attached: Your essay attached as .doc or .PDF only
Body of message: Copy and paste your title page information into the body of the e-mail.

Do not put the essay itself into the body of the e-mail.

Because of the large volume of entries, submissions that do not follow these guidelines will not be accepted.
  • For entries that exceed 10-megabyte file size, send the complete entry saved as .PDF on CD, to arrive no later than the due date to:
NASA 50th Anniversary Essay Competition
Innovative Partnerships Program
Mail Stop 6F72
NASA Headquarters
Washington, D.C. 20546-0001

Criteria for Evaluation
Each essay will be judged on its own merit by a group of federal, university, industry, educational and/or other expert representatives. Award-level entries must be well written, thorough and concise. Entries will be judged on how well students have focused their essay and how well they have addressed four basic criteria: Informed Content*, Creativity and Imagination, Captivating and Inspirational, and Writing Technique.

Scores will be determined using the following guideline:
  • Informed Content*, 30 points.
  • Creativity and Imagination, 30 points.
  • Essay is captivating and inspirational, 20 points.
  • Organization and grammar of the essay, 20 points.
*Informed content means that the students have educated themselves about the technologies and have set their essay in the context of infrastructure that is accurate and scientifically and technically valid.


Each student that enters will receive a NASA Participation Certificate.

ELIGIBLE entries that receive the highest overall scores will receive trophies and scholarships.

The dollar amounts of prizes are subject to available funds.

We expect to be able to make the following awards to the ELIGIBLE middle and junior high school winners; however, amounts may change based on available funds in May of 2008:
  • First prize: $5,000 college scholarship and four VIP trips to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to watch the STS-125 shuttle launch.
  • Second prize: $2,500 college scholarship.
  • Third prize: $1,000 college scholarship.
  • Ten regional winners will receive "Regional Winner" trophies.