NASA wants smart high school kids

By Phil Plait | March 24, 2011 4:43 pm

NASA is looking for U.S. high school students to participate in their INSPIRES program: Interdisciplinary National Science Program Incorporating Research Experience. Students who get in will get access to all kinds of cool stuff:

The selected students and their parents will participate in an online learning community with opportunities to interact with peers, NASA engineers and scientists. The online community also provides appropriate grade-level educational activities, discussion boards and chat rooms for participants to gain exposure to careers and opportunities available at NASA.

That’s nice, but the real deal is this part:

Students selected for the program also will have the option to compete for unique grade-appropriate experiences during the summer of 2012 at NASA facilities and participating universities. The summer experience provides students with a hands-on opportunity to investigate education and careers in the STEM disciplines.

Man, I would’ve killed for that opportunity when I was in high school! So if you’re a teacher with some good students, a parent, or a high school kid yourself, check out the program. And if it looks good to you, apply! The deadline for applications is June 30.

Hey. Sometimes, it is rocket science.


Comments (25)

  1. Archimedes

    Grrrr… Why only US high school students?? Why doesnt something similar for European students exist?? :/

  2. Empirical

    That NASA is plundering ankle biters for new ideas leaves unresolved the obvious probem: NASA. What America needs is a rocket with tremendous expense, near-zero payload, questionable reliability, and no mission. Add some Japanese radwaste for an ISS FUBAR coronal ejection toasty tan. NASA can deliver! Projects Mxyztplk and Btfsplk.

    They will cost double and be late, then be canceled while still paying full price for let contracts. There is no more sincere delivery than that.

  3. RwFlynn

    I’ve always loved NASA’s willingness to work with kids and young adults. This makes me wish I were just a few years younger.

  4. Floyd

    There should be a NASA program for high IQ school and college students. NASA should check out the national SATs or ACT scores and put top performers in a summer program before college.

  5. This is for smart American high school kids? Uh, good luck with that. Given the way Republicans feel about science, ‘smart’ and ‘American’ are rapidly becoming mutually exclusive.

  6. Grand Lunar

    Oh how I wish I could participate in that!
    But I was born 12 years too early…..

  7. Other Paul

    @NCC-1701Z : Surely it just makes smart Americans easier to identify?

  8. Cathy

    I was going to work at NASA when I grew up. It was my dream for about ten years. Then I hit my barrier in integral calculus and realized that I lacked the math chops to make a career out of it. (Now I write science fiction instead so I’m having fun anyway.)

    Still, I would have jumped on an opportunity like this in high school. The closest I got was being an assistant for a StarLab!

  9. matt

    Nasa always has the best acronyms. I always wondered if they had someone full time to think them up.

  10. Atheist Panda

    @7. Grand Lunar: Me too, only 30 years too early, and on the wrong continent….

  11. MadScientist

    @Archimedes: You’ll have to nag ESA about a European equivalent.

    @#6: There may be a lot of idiot GOP members trying hard to ruin the US education system, but there are still a lot of smart kids and plenty of opportunities for them.

  12. gss_000

    There are programs for college and grad students to spend a summer at NASA too. Campuses are crawling with students. I spent a summer at Goddard and it was a blast. For instance, while us grad students got to hear lectures made specially for us by researchers, the college students were taken up into a plane to make atmospheric measurements. NASA’s great for all level of students.

    As for why only American students, there are a lot of clearance issues at these facilities. When it comes to students, its just easier if you’re an American citizen. Although there was a Japanese student attending an American college in my group so maybe there are ways non-Americans can participate.

  13. Jim Gerard

    Thanks for the shout-out, Phil! I run the Online Learning Community for INSPIRE (note there is no S at the end, in case your searches come back wrong), where our students meet virtually during the year to “Discover, Connect, Equip”. Every Thursday we host a live chat with a NASA engineer, scientist or manager to connect with the students. Last night we heard about the new Sustainability Base from the associate director of the Ames Research Center in California. I wonder if a certain former NASA Bad Astronomer wouldn’t mind taking an hour of time to talk to our community about promoting science?

  14. jrpowell

    Both of my daughters will be applying for this program. Thanks for letting us know!

  15. Ray

    INSPIRES? What a sorry excuse for an acronym. Probably thought of the acronym first and then fit in the rather tortured program name afterwards. Has the rancid smell of a committee meeting all over it.

  16. I have been involved in these little outreach programs before, I tell you they are not worth the waste of time.

    They are highly bureaucratic, often run by people with half the IQ of the participants, are incredibly boring, and do not accomplish a damn thing.

    They look good on your resume’, though.

  17. JimB

    @NCC-170Z: All I can say is that *this* parent (and his wife) are doing all we can to fight against that with our son. So far, so good. Too bad he’s in 5th grade, or we’d be signing him up NOW. (As much as I’d like to be of an age to participate, I don’t want to go through high school again. Now, college…..:) )

    Thanks for posting this Phil.

  18. Matt

    I was part of a similar program in 2007 called High School Aerospace Scholars. It was a fantastic experience. The best part was getting exclusive tours of the facilities at Johnson Space Center, meeting several Astronauts (including a geologist who visited the Moon in the 70’s!), and working with real NASA scientists and engineers on mock missions. We even got to sit in the mission control center during a Shuttle mission to the ISS.

  19. Messier Tidy Upper

    @6. NCC-1701Z :

    This is for smart American high school kids? Uh, good luck with that. Given the way Republicans feel about science, ‘smart’ and ‘American’ are rapidly becoming mutually exclusive.M

    Sheesh. :roll:

    Way to insult a lot of people needlessly, dude. :-(

    You do know that the Bad Astronomer and many of the commenters on here (not myself but many others) are actually American, right?

    Plus while Republicans pushing creationism isn’t great for educational quality – to say the least – nor are some Democratic party policies, eg. affirmative action and Political Correctness & Post-Modernism. When it comes to education I don’t think either side has much to boast of and both must share the blame. :-(

  20. Nigel Depledge

    Matt (20) said:

    The best part was getting exclusive tours of the facilities at Johnson Space Center, meeting several Astronauts (including a geologist who visited the Moon in the 70′s!),

    That’d be Harrison “Jack” Schmidt, who is the only actual scientist to have walked on the moon (although, fair dos, Buzz Aldrin already had a PhD before he joined Apollo, and all the Apollo astronauts received a good deal of training in geology).


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