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Redmond students participate in first phase of Washington Aerospace Scholars program

Six students from Redmond have been accepted into the first phase of this year
Six students from Redmond have been accepted into the first phase of this year's Washington Aerospace Scholars program.
— image credit: Courtesy Photo

Six students from Redmond have been accepted into Phase One of the 2012-13 Washington Aerospace Scholars (WAS) program.

Bijoya Basu of The Overlake School and Eric Burlingame, Riley Harris, Atticus Liu, Robert Swan and Alex Zhou of Redmond High School are among 285 applicants from 117 different public, private and home-school organizations who applied in fall of 2012 to participate and are now some of the 218 students still participating in the program. Having already completed five online lessons, they will spend the next three months continuing to compete for one of the 160 slots available in a summer residency session held at The Museum of Flight this June and July. To qualify for the residency, students must satisfactorily complete 10 online lessons, consisting of research essays, space-related math problems and detailed graphics that illustrate their ideas. If these students move on to the summer residency experience, they will collaborate with other student participants on the design of a human mission to Mars guided by professional engineers, scientists, university students and certified educators.

The WAS program is a free, competitive, science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education program for high school juniors from across Washington and is affiliated with the NASA Johnson Space Center's National High School Aerospace Scholars program and with the University of Washington's (UW)Department of Earth and Space Science. WAS Phase One participants have the option to receive five UW credits in Space and Space Travel (ESS 102) upon their successful completion of the online WAS curriculum and this course will satisfy the natural world area of knowledge requirement for graduation from the UW.

The program's primary goal is to excite and prepare student to pursue careers pathways in STEM fields because the statistics for STEM education in Washington state are grim: Washington ranks 4th in the nation for technology-based corporations and 46th for participation in science and engineering graduate programs. By using a distance-learning curriculum designed in partnership with NASA and UW, WAS gives students the opportunity to explore topics such as the history of human spaceflight and the impacts of space weather on future human exploration of the universe.

Since 2006, more than 1,700 juniors, representing every Washington state legislative district, have participated in the online distance learning curriculum and more than 860 have completed a six-day summer residency held at The Museum of Flight. The program's summer residency alumni association tracks scholars after they graduate high school and more than 70 percent of WAS alumni are pursuing a college degree in a STEM field.

WAS applications for the 2013-14 program cycle will be available late summer 2013 at www.museumofflight.org/was. Participants must be high school juniors, U.S. citizens and Washington State residents with a 3.0 minimum grade-point-average.

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