Press Release

NASA Invites Virginia Students to Become 2009 Aerospace Scholars

By SpaceRef Editor
September 17, 2008
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Calling Virginia high school juniors. NASA invites you to compete for a place on teams that will chart a mission to Mars next summer.

The Virginia Aerospace Science and Technology Scholars (VASTS) program, initiated last year by NASA Langley Research Center Director Lesa B. Roe in partnership with the Virginia Space Grant Consortium, is now taking applications for the Web-based course and all-expense-paid summer residential academy. The program is open to high school juniors and home schoolers across the Commonwealth. Deadline for application is Nov. 14.

“I firmly believe that last year’s pilot program identified and recognized Virginia super stars, challenged their fertile minds and opened up career paths perhaps they had not yet considered,” said Roe.

Offered via the Internet from December 2008 through May 2009, the program consists of 10 lessons and a final project that allow students to build their knowledge of NASA and get hands-on experience in science, technology, engineering and math. Based on course performance, scholars may be selected to participate in a seven-day academy at NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., where they will team with NASA mentors and undertake an aerospace mission.

Last year’s inaugural experience brought together 43 students from across Virginia. This year at least 200 students will be selected to participate in the distance-learning course and to compete for the summer academy as part of the program’s expansion for 2009.

Student comments are the best testimonial for the program:

“It definitely ranks at the top of the experiences I’ve had during my high school career,” said Shawn Mittal from Chantilly High School in Fairfax, Va. “I learned a lot because I got to talk to NASA mentors and people who actually work with the stuff I want to do.”

“One of the best parts [of the program] was working together as a team, learning to cooperate with each other,” said Wen Chen from Loudoun Valley High School in Purcellville, Va.

“Working on the different units and finding solutions to the questions has improved my problem-solving skills,” said Christopher Lee from Mills E. Godwin High School in Richmond.

The Virginia Aerospace Science and Technology Scholars program uses a NASA-developed curriculum with a space-based theme and is aligned with Virginia Standards of Learning. Master educators work with students online, providing guidance and feedback on assignments. At the summer academy, students will interact personally with NASA scientists, engineers and technologists.

The Virginia Space Grant Consortium manages the program with support from the Virginia Department of Education. Also providing support are Analytical Mechanics Associates Inc., ATK Space Systems, Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co., Sierra Lobo, Unisys, the Dominion Virginia Power Foundation and the GenCorp Foundation on behalf of Aerojet in Virginia.

For more information on the aerospace scholars program and for an application, visit

For more information on NASA programs, visit

SpaceRef staff editor.