Mercer Island students soaring in aerospace scholars program

Five Mercer Island High School juniors have been selected to compete with 308 other students from across Washington state for one of 160, six-day summer residencies at the Museum of Flight in Seattle.

Alexander Eriksson, Luis Gonzalez, Alexander Hoffman, Anthony Pedreira and Ian Platou will be participating in the first phase of the Washington Aerospace Scholars (WAS) program.

The WAS program is a free and competitive science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) program for Washington state high school juniors. It is affiliated with NASA Johnson Space Center’s National High School Aerospace Scholars program. The goal for the program is to excite and prepare students for careers in STEM fields using distanced learning curriculum developed in partnership with NASA and the University of Washington.

“Getting students interested in STEM programs – and aerospace in particular – has really become a regional priority when you consider our largest local employers,” said Mercer Island School District Superintendent Dr. Gary Plano. “This is a great way for these five students to get hands-on experience that can impact their careers after graduation.”

Over the next five months, these Phase One students will complete online academic coursework in order to qualify for one of the summer residency slots. To qualify for the residency, students must satisfactorily complete 10 online lessons, consisting of research essays, space-related math problems and detailed graphics that illustrate their ideas. WAS participants also have the option to receive five University of Washington credits in Space and Space Travel upon on their successful completion of the online curriculum.

Should they qualify for the summer residency, they will be guided by professional engineers, scientists, university students and certified educators as they collaborate with other students to design a human mission to Mars. They will also take tours of engineering facilities and laboratories, complete team engineering challenges and meet leaders in STEM fields.

Former Governor Chris Gregoire called the program, “One of the most exciting educational opportunities for students in the state of Washington.”

More than 70 percent of the program’s 1,019 program alumni are pursuing a college degree in a STEM field.


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