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Five from Mercer Island enter Washington Aerospace Scholars program

The Washington Aerospace Scholars (WAS) is pleased to announce that five Mercer Island  students have been accepted into Phase One of the 2012-13 program:

• Katie Bell of Mercer Island High School

• Nolan Conway of Mercer Island High School

• Nathan Schuler of Mercer Island High School

• Kevyn Tran of Mercer Island High School

• Michael Weyna of Chrysalis High School

The WAS program is a free, competitive, science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education program for high school juniors from across Washington state and is affiliated with NASA Johnson Space Center’s National High School Aerospace Scholars program and with the University of Washington’s Department of Earth and Space Science.

Phase One participants have the option to receive five University of Washington credits in Space and Space Travel (ESS 102) upon their successful completion of the online WAS curriculum, and this course will satisfy the Natural World area of knowledge requirement for graduation from the University of Washington.

The program’s primary goal is to encourage students to pursue careers in STEM fields. Statistics for STEM education in Washington state are grim: Washington ranks fourth in the nation for technology-based corporations and yet 46th for participation in science and engineering graduate programs. By using a distance-learning curriculum designed in partnership with NASA and the University of Washington, WAS gives students the opportunity to explore topics such as the history of human spaceflight and the impacts of space weather on future human exploration of the universe.

Since 2006, over 1,700 juniors have participated in the online distance learning curriculum offered by WAS. Since the program launched in 2006, over 860 have completed a six-day summer residency held at the Museum of Flight. The summer residency alumni association tracks scholars after they graduate high school, and over 70 percent of WAS alumni are pursuing a college degree in a science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) field.

These five students are among the 285 student applicants from 117 different public, private and home-school organizations who applied in fall of 2012 to participate. The program presently has 218 students. There is no cost for students to participate in the WAS program thanks to the continuing support from The Boeing Company, The Washington NASA Space Grant Consortium, The GenCorp Foundation, BAE Systems and many individual donors.

Washington Aerospace Scholars applications for the 2013-14 program cycle will be available late summer 2013 at www.museumofflight.org/was.

WAS participants must be high school juniors, United States citizens and Washington state residents with a 3.0 GPA.

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