Application Instructions

Selected teachers from the VASTS online coursework will serve as Master Teachers for the VASTS Summer Academy. Note: This position may require the educator to be have been fingerprinted and/or a complete background check conducted as a condition of employment as part of employment as an Online Course Master Teacher.



Program Description

The week-long residential Summer Academy will be available to 180 of the top-performing Scholars from the online course. Scholars will come to NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia where they will meet engineers, scientists, and technologist from the aerospace field who will serve as Mentors. With a systems engineering focus, the Summer Academy immerses the Scholars in a cooperative learning and group decision making environment modeling real-world working environments.


The Scholars arrive at NASA Langley Research Center ready to work collaboratively within five teams; Mission Integration, Mission Transit, Science and Surface Operations, Strategic Communications, and Human Factors. These five teams are presented with the problem of creating a human mission to Mars architecture. This project provides the Scholars with the purpose for research and content knowledge acquired during the online course and completion of a final project. The mission design project will guide students in working as a team towards a common goal. The Scholars soon realize that each decision made hinges upon other teams’ technology development concepts, needs, and ideas. Scholars drive the questions to be asked of the different teams, negotiate terms of agreement, realize tradeoffs in technologies and funding must be made. Learn to employ appropriate communication skills in working with other teams. The NASA Mentors and Master Teachers facilitate the Scholars’ mission design work and guide students to make educated and informed decisions.


The Academy offers Scholars and Master Teachers opportunities to learn about the latest in space exploration technology and science directly from engineers and scientists working on current mission design projects. Tours of NASA LaRC’s facilities housing technologies such as the Landing and Impact Research Facility (a.k.a “The Gantry”) and the Electron Beam Free-Form Fabricator will be offered as well as hands-on activities that simulate Mars robotic rover communication with Earth, surface exploration, and mineral sampling.

Master Teacher Stipend

Teachers will receive $2000 for each week of Summer Academy participation.


● Attend Summer Academy Training Webinar

● Arrive on Saturday by noon at CNU to assist with set-up and student registration.

● Be present and chaperone Scholars during all Summer Academy activities.

● Ensure the safety of Scholars.

● Guide Scholars to make informed decisions and to create succinct presentations.

● Encourage Scholars to stay focused, on task, and make best use of their time.

● Encourage all Scholars to participate and make their opinions heard.

● Provide positive and constructive feedback and guidance – evaluate Scholar performance in group work, daily debriefing presentations and Mission Design Review panel presentation.

● Assist students in preparing the Closing Ceremony presentation.

● Participate in tours and activities.

● Track funding awarded and deducted from teams during the week.


All meals and transportation will be provided during the Summer Academy.

Teachers will be housed at the Christopher Newport University (CNU) in Newport News, VA with the Scholars.

Summer Academy Dates

  • June 22-28, 2024
  • July 13-19, 2024
  • July 27-August 2, 2024