So what’s the latest and greatest regarding NASA? And why should I care, you ask? Hasn't the shuttling of the Space Shuttle Program and cutbacks in funding and lack of vision from our political leaders made this once awesome organization boring and irrelevant? Well, please allow me dispel these thoughts and take you on a tour of the NASA Web site.
NASA: The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the agency of the United States that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research. Since February 2006, NASA's mission statement has been to "pioneer the future in space exploration, scientific discovery, and aeronautics research.”
You can check out the latest and greatest in news, missions, multimedia, apps, and other ways to connect with NASA. You can even plan a visit to some of their eighteen facilities across the United States.
NASA for Students is broken up into grade groups of:
Each group has age appropriate links. Example, NASA is sponsoring the 2012 NASA Space Settlement Design Program for 6th through 12 graders and can join as individuals, groups, or entire classrooms.
Design a space settlement! Space settlements are permanent communities in orbit, as opposed to being on the moon or other planets. Designing a space settlement involves physics, mathematics, space science, environmental science and many other disciplines. This contest is for 11-18-year-old students from anywhere in the world. Individuals or teams may enter. Grades 6-8, 9-10 and 11-12 are judged separately, except for the grand prize. Submissions must be received by March 15, 2012. Click the link for more details, contest prizes, and certificates.
And check out the Current Opportunities for Kids link. NASA also hosts youth ambassadors from around the globe for successful outreach programs. NASA’s Web site is a great site for kids to research homework and for author to research their novels.
What about classrooms and partnering with other classrooms around the globe?
Virtual Tours: Can't work out a visit to a NASA facility? Check out their interactive features such as their Interactive Features and Virtual Tours.
Connect with NASA: Yep. There's an app for that. Check out the various apps and social networks NASA has such as Facebook and Twitter.
What's Next For NASA? NASA is conducting an unprecedented array of missions that will seek new knowledge and understanding of Earth, the solar system and the universe. NASA has observatories in Earth orbit and deep space, spacecraft visiting the moon and other planetary bodies, and robotic landers, rovers, and sample return missions. One example is designing and building the capabilities to send humans to explore the solar system and working toward a goal of landing humans on Mars.
NASA has a payback on our hard-earned tax dollars, providing great paying jobs, supporting entire communities, and opening doors for incredible future opportunities such as planet colonization and mining asteroids (more on this in a future post).