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NASA IV&V Supports STEM Education in West Virginia

NASA+IV%26V+Supports+STEM+Education+in+West+Virginia

NASAs Katherine Johnson Independent Verification and Validation Facility is located right here in Fairmont. This sites primary responsibility is to test the safety and quality of critical software used to support NASAs top missions. However, since IV&V is located in our home state, their Education Resource Center also supports STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education and enrichment for students of all grade levels. Heres a look at some of the programs offered, which students and faculty alike are encouraged to take advantage of:

Internships: NASA offers a variety of internships for high school, undergraduate and graduate students at locations throughout the country, including IV&V in Fairmont. Note that NASAs internships are NOT just for those interested in or getting their degree in STEM. NASA internships are open to any major or career interest, and they also specifically want applicants interested in writing, journalism, media, marketing, and business to help promote outreach! To learn more about internship opportunities, visit https://www.nasa.gov/learning-resources/internship-programs/.

Workshops: The ERC host field trips for Grades 6 through 12 where students can participate in hands-on activities based on a variety of educational topics. These all-day workshops last about five hours, and students will work directly with a NASA Education Outreach Specialist. Available topics include hot air balloons, meteorites, geology, model rocketry, space weather and aerial drones. For more information, visit this website: https://www.nasaivverc.org/students.

Summer Camps: Destination SPACE Camp is an engaging, hands-on STEM camp hosted on Fairmont Universitys campus for students aged thirteen through eighteen. Students can learn about a variety of topics, including robotics, satellites, engineering, weather, and climate. The weeklong camp includes on-campus housing, meals and outdoor activities in addition STEM lessons and opportunities to make friends and build confidence. At the end of the camp, students will give presentations to their peers and families. 2024s Satellite Week camp will begin Sunday, July 7. Learn more about Destination SPACE Camp by visiting their site: https://www.destinationspace-stem.org/summer-camp-programs

STEM Competitions: NASA supports a variety of STEM competitions, including robotics for all age categories, aerial drone piloting, coding competitions, and amateur rocketry. Programs include VEX robotics for elementary school through university level; FIRST Lego League for young students to learn robotics through Legos; CoderZ League, in which students practice programming skills by coding virtual simulated robots; and the Aerial Drone Competition, in which teams build technical skills through hands-on drone piloting challenges. The ERC helps train teams to compete in the American Rocketry Challenge, the worlds largest student rocketry competition. Over two thousand students each year compete in the ERCs STEM competitions.

FSU Robotics Club: As covered in a previous article, IV&Vs ERC has sponsored Fairmont State Universitys own Robotics Club in VEX Competitions. Thanks to their support, our schools team is thriving. Last year, FSU Robotics even attended the World Championships in Dallas, Texas. All majors are welcome to join! To learn more visit https://www.wvrobot.org/or contact Professor Musat Crihalmeanu through his email at [email protected].  

Public Events: NASA IV&V sponsors a variety of public events throughout the year, including youth expos, STEM mini-fairs, and VEX Robotics events. These events are hosted throughout the state. For example, COVERAGE is all-girls VEX Robotics Expo, designed to inspire female students in middle school and high school to engage in STEM. Those interested can watch all-women teams compete in robotics and drone competitions. The next COVERAGE Expo will be held on May 2, 2024, at the Clay Center for Arts and Sciences in Charleston, WV. Visit this site to learn more and register: https://www.wvrobot.org/coverage. Also, be sure to check out the IV&V Education Resource Center regularly for more events.

In conclusion, NASA is committed to investing in West Virginian students! If these opportunities interest you as a university student, consider joining FSU Robotics or applying for an internshipremember, you dont have to be a STEM major for either. If NASA doesnt interest you personally, please share these opportunities with a younger family member or even do your favorite teacher a favor and ask your former high school to incorporate workshops and encourage students to attend SPACE Camp. STEM has great career opportunities!

For more information on NASAs Education Resource Center, visit https://www.nasaivverc.org/ or ask John Holbrook, Robotics Outreach Specialist, who can often be found in Wallman Hall office 321 or reached at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Emily Deal
Emily Deal, Staff Reporter
Emily V. Deal is a senior from Ashton, WV, majoring in Electronics Engineering Technology. She seeks to someday publish a novel. Her hobbies including daydreaming, chasing chickens, cosplaying at renaissance faires, and collecting crystals, comic books, preserved animal specimens and wild golf balls fresh from the field.
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