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Starting Young
Who Are NASA's Earth Explorers?

The student thinking about El Niño. The scientist studying climate. And the farmer looking at satellite images. All of these people are Earth Explorers. They're all curious about how Earth works. This is a story about a NASA Earth Explorer.

Students from Drew Freeman Middle School holding certificates they received from the Minority University-Space Interdisciplinary Network.
Image above: Students from Maryland receive certificates for taking part in the NASA Student Involvement Program. Credit: NASA
Are hurricanes worse than tornadoes? In what ways do forest fires hurt animals? What happens to animals when people move onto their land?

These may sound like questions for adults to answer. But they were studied by teens last school year. These students were part of the NSIP Watching Earth Change contest.

NSIP stands for the "NASA Student Involvement Program." NSIP is a science contest for students in grades K-12.

There are six NSIP contests. They use science, math and geography. Students can work as a class, in groups or alone. In Watching Earth Change, students use NASA facts to study how Earth is changing.

The students who studied the above questions were from Maryland. Teachers and older kids in college helped them.

They used many ways to find to answers. They looked at pictures from satellites. They read weather facts. They also read stories on the NASA Web site. And they looked at other Web sites, too.

NSIP isn't like a normal science class. It lets kids do science. They don't just read about science. It also teaches kids how to talk about what they learned. And it teaches teamwork.

The students did some of their work after school. But some had to be done during the school day. That meant having to miss other classes every so often. Like math or English.

But the other teachers didn't mind. They knew the students were doing the same kind of work they would have done in class. For example, the students might have had to miss a math class. But they were using math in their projects anyway.

Are you interested in NSIP? Tell your teacher to check out the NSIP Web site. It talks about the different contests and how to enter.

See previous Earth Explorers articles:
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Related Resources

NASA Student Involvement Program (NSIP)
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Dan Stillman, Institute for Global Environmental Strategies