Two Banquete High School students have been chosen to participate in a one-week summer internship at the Johnson Space Center in Houston.
Samantha Greenwood, 17, and Katie Wernecke, 16, are juniors at Banquete High School and were selected from students across the State of Texas to be part of High School Aerospace Scholars.
High School Aerospace Scholars is an interactive online learning experience, highlighted by a six-day internship where selected students are encouraged to study math, science, engineering or computer science by interacting with engineers at the NASA Johnson Space Center.
During the school year, scholars completed 10 web-based lessons. Lessons began in January and were due every two weeks. These lessons included a variety of activities such as reading online curriculum, writing essays, designing upgrades to be used on the shuttle and International Space Station, solving math problems and taking online quizzes. These lessons were aligned to the state and national standards.
Katie said the schedule has been difficult at times, but with help from Samantha, the work has paid off.
"It's frustrating," Katie said. "Saturday night, you stay up just to get the essay all typed and sent off by midnight. It's individual (assignments), but we help each other."
The students will apply what they have learned from the assignments as part of their challenge to work as part of a team to design a mission to Mars. The weeklong experience at Johnson Space Center includes a tour of the space center's facilities and briefings by astronauts, engineers and other NASA experts. There will also be hands-on engineering activities.
Samantha said she is excited to be traveling to Houston, but added she's not sure what sort of challenges await the students once they arrive.
"I'm kind of nervous," Samantha said. "I don't really know what to expect."
These students and teammates will conclude their experience by presenting their proposal at a luncheon to their parents, members of the Texas Legislature, Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, Rotary NASA and the space center's senior management.
As for what follows after their return from Houston, Katie said she is planning to pursue a career in medicine, while Samantha said she may look to a future in agriculture.
"I'm not sure what I really want to do," Samantha said. "I'm just testing everything. I like (agriculture), so I may end up going in that direction."
The State of Texas, in partnership with the Johnson Space Center and the Texas educational community, developed HAS in 1999 to encourage more students to pursue studies and careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. More than 1,500 students from across Texas have participated in the program since its inception.
School districts may grant a science elective credit toward graduation based on the Scientific Research and Design course developed by the Texas Education Agency to the students who participate and complete the summer program. The students are provided transportation, housing and meals during their weeklong stay at the Johnson Space Center.