The Virginia Earth System Science Scholars (VESSS) program is an online Earth System Science Course featuring NASA scientific research and data learning experience highlighted by a seven-day residential summer academy at NASA Langley Research Center (LaRC) in Hampton, Virginia. Students selected to participate in the program are immersed in NASA-related research through interaction with scientists, engineers, technologists, and academia.
Students from across the state of Virginia are selected to participate through a competitive application process. To participate, students must:
● Be a high school junior or senior with interest in STEM
● Be a Virginia resident
● Be a U.S. citizen to attend the Summer Academy at NASA
● Have a minimum GPA of 2.7
● Have access to the Internet (home, school, public library)
● Have an email address (school-issued emails cannot be used)
*Permanent residents may apply for the course; however, NASA security restrictions typically preclude non-citizen participation in the summer academies.
During the school year, scholars will complete seven web-based modules and a final project. The modules begin in December and are due every two weeks. Based upon the content of each module, scholars will provide solutions to real-world questions, participate in discussion forums on current space-related topics with other scholars and NASA scientists and engineers, and 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 Langley (Hampton, VA), which will include:
● A team project in which students design a mission to explore the Earth Systems by launching a satellite.
● Tours of NASA Langley facilities
● Mentoring by NASA engineers, scientists, and technologists
● Briefings and seminars by special speakers, engineers, scientists, and other NASA experts.
School districts may choose but are not guaranteed to grant a science elective credit towards graduation for students who successfully complete the online program and Summer Academy. This is entirely at the discretion of the individual school district. Scholars selected for the week-long academy at NASA Langley are provided transportation, housing, and meals during their stay.
Complete the requirements located on the Application Instructions page.
The application deadline will be October 24, 2021, at 11:55 PM. Rolling admissions will be used for selection to the VESSS program. If your application is accepted for the program, you will be notified within a week of your completed application. If you apply closer to the deadline, you will be contacted via email by November 6, 2021. Once accepted, you will be sent log-in information to begin working on the online curriculum. Each of the 7 modules and the final project will be graded using the rubrics at the end of each lesson. Scholars are selected for the Summer Academy based on the timely completion of all assignments, quality of work, participation in online discussions, and the final grade. NO ASSIGNMENT CAN BE MISSED.
● September: Virginia schools receive information describing the program and guidelines
● Aug 15, 2021 – October 23, 2021: Interested students complete online application
● October 24, 2021, at 11:55 PM: Application deadline
● October 29, 2021: Students notified by email of their acceptance to the program and information on the distance learning course
● December 2021 – April 2022: Students engage in distance learning assignments and online discussions to learn more about earth system science, LaRC mentors, and the other participants
● May 2022: Students are selected for the summer program based on completing lessons, quality of work, and timeliness.