2011 Science, Technology and Exploration Program (STEP)
Project Co-Leads are Drs. Oana Marcu, Alfonso Davila, Jhony Zavaleta,
Nathan Bramall, Brad Bebout and Richard Quinn of NASA Ames Research Center
and the SETI Institute.
Project Senior Scientist Advisor is Dr. Chris McKay of NASA Ames.
Read the bios of the Project Co-Leads and Senior Scientist here.
The NASA Science, Technology and Exploration Program (NASA STEP) is a
two-week training program in Astrobiology, focused on informal education
and hands-on activities in science research and space technology. The
program is offered to high school students and their teachers, has begun
in the summer of 2009 and will continue through 2011.
Astrobiology is the perfect tool to bring together all aspects of space
exploration: it is a multidisciplinary field requiring broad understanding
of the underlying scientific disciplines (physics, chemistry, biology,
geology). Astrobiology exploration on Earth and beyond, often in extreme
environments, also involves robotics, advanced technology and state-of-the-art
Designed around a mission-building concept, NASA STEP consists of a series
of science and engineering discovery discussions, hands-on exploration
activities and local and virtual field trips with the background theme
of participating in a robotic mission to Mars to search for traces of
The program offers direct interaction with scientists and engineers through access to on-going investigations and mission planning at NASA Ames Research Center and associated fieldwork. It exercises collaborative and team-building skills among all participants - students, teachers and practicing scientists.
The current program for 2011 will support twenty-four students and six
teachers from six local high schools (team of 4 students and 1 teacher).
Every day NASA STEP attendees participate in short, guided Science Discovery
Lectures related to life sciences, biophysics, planetary sciences and
space exploration. Engineering Discovery Lectures will provide students
with a broad overview of the many aspects of space technology, including
satellites, spacecrafts, mission planning, robotics, instrumentation,
The activities at NASA Ames are complemented by a weekend-long field trip to Lassen Volcanic National Park, designed to directly involve the students in the research and engineering in extreme environments used as analogs to planetary conditions. The field experience is a key part of the program, following and exemplifying the exploratory activities in the laboratory.
The engineering component includes robotics and programming workshops followed by a student robotics challenge, and a rocketry workshop concluded with a student rocket launch along with LUNAR at NASA Ames.
Bios for the course organizers and contributors can be found here.
A primary goal of NASA STEP is to exploit NASA's unique position to provide a top-notch training program and thereby engage and motivate young students to choose science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM)-oriented careers. Along with the students, the teachers receive professional training directly from scientists and engineers involved in research and mission design. The participants become NASA ambassadors for public awareness and support for space activities and exploration.
Brad Bebout 1 (650) 604-3227
|Last Update: May 26, 2011|