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June 15, 2011
NASA Education Program Marks Five Years in Washington

HOUSTON - NASA's High School Aerospace Scholars Program will celebrate this summer five years of partnering with the Washington Aerospace Scholars (WAS) program. The collaborative effort with the Museum of Flight in Seattle supports the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education pipeline in the state using NASA's distinctive content to inspire high school juniors.

More than 1,160 students have participated in NASA's distance learning program since the partnership's inception. Seven hundred top performers have taken part in a summer residency program at the museum designed to provide a slate of hands-on, inquiry-based learning opportunities for high school students.

"Our partnership within Washington helps NASA share the unique content that space exploration offers with many high school students who will hopefully go on to become the next great engineers and scientists," said Linda Smith, NASA's High School Aerospace Scholars program manager. "The program provides memorable experiences that show the students how studying a STEM discipline can lead to exciting opportunities."

"There are few opportunities available for such an in-depth, free education in this field. It was a unique opportunity to interact with experts in the field on engineering and aviation," said Amanda Watson, a student who participated in last year's program.

The scholars complete a series of quizzes, math problem sets, essays and graphics on various science and space-related topics each year, including on the history of space exploration, the space shuttle, the International Space Station, the moon and Mars. Selected students have represented 80 school districts and every legislative district in Washington.

Based on scores, the highest achieving scholars are invited each summer to a residency program at the Museum of Flight. During the residencies, scholars work with professional engineers and scientists to design a human mission to Mars, tour engineering facilities and participate in competitions to develop, construct and launch a rocket. Nearly 160 students will participate in the residency program this summer.

Some graduates of the summer residency have interned at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston or visited as part of NASA's other aerospace scholars programs that invite students to interact with the engineers and scientists that help expand our understanding of space each day. More than 77 percent of WAS college-age alumni, who responded to a survey for alumni, are pursuing a degree in a STEM field.

For more information about NASA and agency programs, visit:


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Rachel Kraft
Johnson Space Center, Houston

Melissa Edwards
Museum of Flight, Seattle

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