mISSion imaginaTIon Challenges Students To Solve Space Travel Problems

The National Aeronautics & Space Administration (NASA) and Texas Instruments are asking middle and high school students in the United States for help with space-related challenges.

mISSion imaginaTIon is a contest in which student teams will be asked to solve challenges that NASA astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko currently face as they participate in their year-long mission aboard the International Space Station.

"If anything shows students how exciting STEM subjects can be, it's astronauts spending a year in a space station, doing science experiments and demonstrating cutting-edge technology," said Donald James, associate administrator for NASA's Office of Education. "The yearlong mission is an excellent opportunity to capture students' attention and set them on a course to become the next generation of explorers."

The challenge begins with an online quiz that students can take to determine how ready they might be to live in space. For example, the quiz asks them for the acceleration of the Earth's gravity. Once prepared, they will be asked to come up with solutions for one of four challenges that involve long-term space travel. Examples of design challenges include designing a plan to feed astronauts who are on the space station for long periods of time and creating an effective waste-management system.

The deadline for submitting challenge solutions will be May 2 and the winner will receive a video chat with a NASA expert, a Texas Instruments graphing calculator and a number of other prizes.

The mISSion imaginaTIon challenge is the first initiative of a four-year partnership between NASA and Texas Instruments that is intended to promote interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers and teach students more about the space station.

About the Author

Michael Hart is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and the former executive editor of THE Journal.