SAISD Juniors Selected for NASA Summer Experience

April 5, 2018

Two San Angelo ISD students have been selected to participate in a weeklong summer experience at NASA's Johnson Space Center.

Central High School juniors Braeden Fleeman and Sophie Forbes were selected for the out-of-this-world opportunity as part of NASA's Texas High School Aerospace Scholar program. High School Aerospace Scholars offers a one-of-a-kind experience for Texas high school students to explore the possibilities of a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) related major or career. 

Their journey started last fall after being accepted into the program following an application process that included an admission essay and a nomination letter by a Texas State Legislator. 

Throughout the school year, Fleeman and Forbes participated in interactive online lessons on NASA activities related to space exploration, earth science, technology and aeronautics. They also completed design challenges such as 3D drawing, video creation, and interactive poster design, and participated in virtual chats with NASA engineers and scientists. 

Both students had to complete four modules of increasing difficulty named after the stages of a Mars' mission: Getting There, Discovering There, Living There and Working There. Within each module, there were four topics: Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, each including interactive lessons focusing on Earth, Aeronautics, International Space Station, Journey to Mars, and the Solar System. Each module included activities, research, writing, and a test.

At the end of the course, students with the highest scores were chosen to advance for a weeklong visit at the Johnson Space Center to get a more hands-on approach. Fleeman and Forbes were notified last month that they were two of approximately 300 Texas juniors who had been selected for the summer program. 

The two will travel to Houston this summer to NASA's Johnson Space Center where they will work on team projects to develop mission plans to Mars. They will also be able to sit in on briefings with NASA staff.

Fleeman says he excited to learn more about what NASA scientists do. "I've always loved NASA. The science and engineering part is really interesting." He said he enjoys critically thinking through a problem and figuring out a way around it. 

For Forbes, this program has become a family tradition. "My brothers did it and had a good experience." said Forbes. She said she is interested in astronomy and earth science and is excited to explore that more.

Central High School science teacher Carly Stephens said that this program provides students several benefits and opportunities. First, it teaches students how to manage time and to be successful in a team project atmosphere. It also encourages outside-the-box thinking. And perhaps most importantly, Stephens says, is that participation in this program "builds bridges to opportunities that others don't have. It opens doors to internships and jobs that are only open to these scholars."

To learn more about the NASA High School Aerospace Scholar Program, click here.