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Auburn students enroll aerospace scholars program

Six Auburn students were accepted into the first phase of the Washington Aerospace Scholars, a competitive educational program for high school juniors from across the state based at The Museum of Flight in Seattle.

The group includes Auburn High School's Blake Morgan, Michelle Hainer and Kyle Cheney, and Auburn Mountainview High School's Samantha Fix, Sarah-Katherine Montjoy and Parker Sheldon.

The Auburn juniors are among more than 240 students who applied for WAS in November. They will compete against other students to qualify for the summer residency program held in June and July at the museum. Students will spend the next five months studying a NASA-designed, distance-learning curriculum via the Internet. The curriculum covers topics such as the history of human spaceflight and the analysis of current evidence supporting the theory of life on Mars. For their 10 online lessons, scholars must write essays, compute space-related math problems and design graphics that illustrate their ideas.

“These students competed against a strong set of requirements, including writing a personal essay and demonstrating proficiency in math and science," said Dr. Bonnie J. Dunbar, museum president and CEO. "We are very proud of them. They are the generation who will solve the challenges of the present and create future dreams.”

During the residency experience, students will collaborate with other participants on the design of a human mission to Mars. During the residency WAS scholars are guided by professional engineers, scientists, university students and certified educators as they plan these missions.

The WAS program is designed to inspire students to pursue degrees and careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) but the students are divided into teams which also require them to learn about mission management, budgets, the legal aspects of space exploration and medicine.

All expenses (including travel, meals and lodging) are provided to students free of charge by the Washington Aerospace Scholars Foundation. The program has been supported through generous grants from The Apex Foundation, The Aldarra Foundation, The Boeing Company, Microsoft, Battelle and individual donors. The Museum of Flight hosts both the program administration and the summer residency sessions. Additional partners include NASA Johnson Space Center for curriculum development, the Washington State Governor’s Office, Washington State Legislators, and the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.

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