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NASA Wants Middle School Girls and Boys to Apply

Calling all 5th through 8th grade students who dream of being the next generation of NASA scientists, engineers and innovators! This summer you have an opportunity to participate in a ground-breaking NASA program that will pair you with a NASA professional via online video programs for meaningful mentoring in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) subjects. Middle School students in Virginia still have time to apply (deadline is July 2nd) to NASA GIRLS & BOYS. NASA GIRLS means “Giving Initiative and Relevance to Learning Science” and NASA BOYS means “Building Outstanding Young Scientists.” Let’s go future Virginia aerospace scientists and engineers! Listen to Charles Fishburne’s WCVE Public Radio Report below to learn more. Then apply and share what you learn through the program here at Science Matters. 

Women@NASA created this virtual mentoring project to give students an opportunity to interact and learn from NASA engineers, scientists and technologist. Dr. Mamta Patel Nagaraja, Director of NASA GIRLS & BOYS, explains why Women@NASA started the program with a pilot for girls last year, and why it is expanding to include boys this year:

NASA believes in using our resources to inspire young students to study math and science. This is critical to our nation’s future to ensure we are most innovative and competitive, allowing the lives of future Americans to benefit from such advancements. The gender gap in STEM fields, which are traditionally dominated by men, was the big push to creating NASA GIRLS that was piloted last year. The program was so easy to implement and manage that we decided to add NASA BOYS. We want to make sure our students rise from the middle of the pack to the top when it comes to math and science and give them the tools it takes to keep our nation at the forefront of technology. And an important aspect of this is that we believe every child deserves a mentor. A mentor is someone who cares about you and helps you understand your talents and strengths and allows you to work on your weaknesses. This is what we want to provide through NASA GIRLS & BOYS.

Students who participate have the chance to develop a one-on one relationship with a scientist, engineer or other professional-to ask questions and discuss issues in STEM fields. Another goal of the program is for mentors to help him/her understand how science and math are used in the real world and how they make our lives better. Dr. Nagaraja explains that “space is such an exciting adventure and most kids are curious about it. What better way to learn more than to have your own dedicated NASA mentor!

This year students will perform activities such as building a robot hand, a Wright Brothers airplane model, planning an interstellar trip, and learning about how your bike helmet is the result of space technology! The mentors have a gamut of similar lessons from which to choose, but one this is for sure - each activity will be out of this world!

To Apply: You must be a U. S. Citizen in grades 5-8 or home school equivalent. You must have access to the internet and a video chat program such as Skype or Google Chat which can be through home, school, or the public library. And you must be willing to commit to the 5 week program. Click here for an application and here for important deadlines and dates.

For more information go to the NASA GIRLS & BOYS website.

If you’d like to learn more about Dr. Mamta Patel Nagaraja, an engineer at NASA and Director of NASA GIRLS & BOYS, check out this video. Dr. Nagaraja shares how she got her start and how mentoring has played a significant role in her career.

Article by Debbie Mickle, Science Matters Project Manager

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