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Career Day All about the Challenges
Students at NASA’s 2013 Career Day found themselves hard at work with not one, but two challenges.

Building a lander

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NASA education specialist Teniqua Underwood, center, helps students at NASA’s 2013 Career Days build a lunar lander made out of coffee filters, tape, a rubber band, straws and a foam cup. Students also built a boat out of duct tape that could float while filled with weights. Credit: NASA/Sean Smith

In addition to creating a lunar lander made from coffee filters, tape, a rubber band, straws and a foam cup, they also had to build a boat out of duct tape that could float in water while filled with weights.

The challenges were difficult, but for born explorers, the solutions came naturally.

“What you do in your classrooms is explore,” NASA EDGE host Chris Giersch told the students. “What you’re going to be doing here today is exploring.”

When they first arrived at the Apprentice School gymnasium at Newport News Shipbuilding (NNS), the 600 sophomores and juniors from Peninsula and Southside high schools weren’t aware of the engineering design challenge.

All they knew was that the event was a partnership between NNS, NASA and the Peninsula Engineering Council, and that they were about to delve into their passion in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

Students soon realized it wasn’t just an ordinary day in the classroom.

“It’s different than normal school, and you can’t really learn about this on your own,” said Kiran Bagalkotkar, a junior from Tabb High School in Yorktown, Va. “You really need hands-on experience. You have to talk to people — ask questions to learn about it.”

It wasn't all fun and games for students who attended NASA's 2013 Career Day. Credit: NASA/Gary Banziger

Engineers from NNS and NASA were there to answer any questions the students had about the design challenge.

They also told them a little bit about what they did on a day-to-day basis.

“I enjoy helping students learn more about education,” said NASA education specialist Teniqua Underwood. "It paves the way for them because they're able to learn from you."

Underwood hopes that as the students move on in society they'll continue to grow and inspire other people.

“It’s an incredible opportunity to influence young people about their career choices,” said Monica Barnes, education lead in NASA's Office of Human Capital Management. “I wish I had an opportunity like this, to be educated about the various types of engineering that are available and the amazing innovations that have come from their brilliant ideas.”

Students are off to a great start to finding their dream career. They can even put “worked with NASA and the NNS to build a boat and a lunar lander” on their resumes.

By: Sasha Congiu

The Researcher News
NASA Langley Research Center
Editor & Curator: Denise Lineberry
Executive Editor & Responsible NASA Official: Rob Wyman