Students selected to participate in Virginia Aerospace Science and Technology Scholars (VASTS) are immersed in NASA-related research through interaction with scientists, engineers, and technologists. The program is a partnership between the Virginia Space Grant Consortium, NASA Langley Research Center, the Commonwealth of Virginia, and industry.
During the school year, scholars will complete seven web-based modules. The modules begin in late November and are due every two weeks (more time may be given for the first two modules due to how holiday dates fall on the calendar each year). Based upon the content of each module, scholars will provide solutions to real-world questions, design upgrades to be used on the International Space Station (ISS), design a new crew exploration vehicle, and participate in discussion forums on current space-related topics with other scholars to hone their technical writing skills.
Upon successful completion of the online course, scholars who perform well in the course may be selected to attend a week-long summer academy at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, VA, which will include:
● A team project in which students design a human mission to Mars
● Tours of NASA Langley facilities
● Mentoring by NASA engineers, scientists, and technologists
● Participation in hands-on scientific and engineering activities
● Briefings and seminars by astronauts, engineers, scientists, and other NASA experts
Scholars who are selected for the week-long academy at NASA’s Langley Research Center are provided transportation, housing, and meals during their stay.
Who can apply?
High School Juniors and Seniors!
Students from across the state of Virginia are selected to participate through a competitive application process. In order to participate students must:
● Be a U.S. Citizen and Virginia resident
● Be currently in their junior or senior year of high school and at least 16 years of age
● Have interest in or an aptitude for math, science, engineering, or technology
● Have a minimum GPA of 2.7 (Students who wish to register for the optional college credit will require a GPA of 3.0)
● Have access to email and the Internet (home, school, or public library)
*Permanent residents may apply for the course; however, NASA security restrictions typically preclude non-citizen participation in the summer academies.
To apply, students complete an online application and provide a teacher recommendation and a school counselor letter confirming the student attends a Virginia high school, is in the 11th or 12th grade, and has at least a 2.7 GPA.
Once submitted, applicants receive an email confirmation, and the specified individuals receive email instructions to submit the letter of recommendation and a school counselor letter on the applicant’s behalf. Applicants should inform those individuals they will receive an email from firstname.lastname@example.org. All letters must be submitted via the online application system. Letters submitted in any other manner will not be accepted. It is the applicant’s responsibility to follow up to ensure the recommendation is submitted electronically by the deadline. The applicant will receive an email notification when this letter is submitted.
Optional college credit is available for FREE through the Virginia Peninsula Community College dual enrollment office. To apply, a student transcript and a 3.0 GPA are required.
Calling all High School STEM Teachers!
We are looking for teachers with the following experience:
• Holds a current teaching license in a STEM subject for Virginia secondary school
• Formal education experience teaching earth science, aviation, and/or integrative STEM education, preferred
• Ability to attend mandatory master teacher training
• Moodle coursework/programming a plus
Facilitation of Online Coursework
Each master teacher will facilitate the VASTS online coursework for approximately 35 scholars in preparation for the potential participation in the summer academies at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, VA. The purpose of the VASTS program is to provide online coursework for scholars to acquire knowledge of NASA, human space exploration, and key STEM skills. The top 180 performing scholars from across Virginia who successfully complete the coursework will attend a seven-day, residential program in which they will undertake a teamed-human space exploration mission design project at Langley. Master teachers for the online course must attend at least one week during the summer academies.
Master Teacher Stipend
$2500 for online course content grading and forum participation
$2000 for summer academy
• Grade modules submitted by the scholars and the final project promptly using prescribed performance rubrics. Online course module assignments that the students complete are due every two weeks.
• Provide personalized and timely feedback (within one week of submission) of assignments using the Moodle online coursework management website. Input grades into the system. Include comments regarding exemplary work and areas that need improvement. Provide examples of how work could be improved.
• Monitor scholars’ performance, quality of assignments, online posts, and replies within the discussion forums. Contact students individually as needed. Send VSGC copies of correspondence via email if concerns arise.
• Ensure online discussions are appropriate and topic-relevant. Address students individually through email if a breach of online etiquette occurs. Send VSGC copies of such correspondence via email.
• Maintain performance data and tracking of student performance using the online system. Alert VSGC of students who are falling behind on assignments and note the follow-up taken.
• Correspond with VASTS scholars and NASA mentors through online discussion forums, synchronous chat sessions, and email through the Moodle site.
• Complete Post-Course evaluation surveys
VASTS Coursework Training
A mandatory virtual training session will be held. You will be sent further instructions prior to training.
Application Deadline: October 15
Teachers are required to submit an online application by the October 15th deadline. Once you have submitted the online application, you will receive an email confirming the submission.
Letters of Recommendation
Two letters of recommendation must be provided by a current or former supervisor, department chair, school administrator, or someone who can attest to the applicant’s professional qualifications. Once the applicant has submitted their application, the system will email the specified individuals instructions on how to submit their online letters of recommendation. Inform them that they will be receiving an email from email@example.com with these instructions.
All letters of recommendation must be submitted via the online application system. Letters of recommendation submitted in any other manner will not be accepted.
Important Note: It is the responsibility of the applicant to follow up with the people who are providing letters of recommendation to ensure the recommendations are submitted electronically by the deadline. The applicant will receive an email notification when each of these letters is submitted.
The Virginia Aerospace Science and Technology Scholars (VASTS) program is a FREE, interactive on-line STEM learning experience, highlighted by a seven-day residential summer academy at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, VA.