We are fortunate to be living in the "Second Golden Era" of space exploration and excitement about space is growing faster than a Saturn V rocket! The recent launch of the James Webb Space Telescope, the search for Earth-like exoplanets, the growth of space tourism and (soon!) sending astronauts to the moon are achievements we can all be excited about. What better way to get involved in space programs than through NASA contests for students and competitions?
NASA contests and competitions for students
So today, we'll share some fun contests and competitions that will challenge your space skills and creativity and prepare you for future space adventures. Good luck and have fun! And if you love NASA, be sure to sign up for our fun, free Explore Space & NASA live events. Students in grades 1-4 will also enjoy our weekly NASA STEM club.
1. Engineering Design Challenges
NASA Glenn Engineering Design Challenges are for grade 6-8 students. Facilitators can modify challenges to fit the needs of their students or learning environment. These challenges are open for anyone to use at any time, however the NASA Glenn Office of STEM engagement occasionally offers solicitations to provide funding for facilitating a selected challenge during a specific window of time such as a summer or a school year. Here are a few examples:
Using the engineering design process, students will design, test, and improve systems to maintain cold temperatures within a simulated cryogenic propellant tank. They will test their design against a control to see how well their insulators worked, then make improvements on their design to determine which are most effective at preventing ice melt in their simulated cryogenic tank. There is no deadline to enter. For more information contact: Gerald.W.Voltz@nasa.gov.
Using the engineering design process, students will design, build, and improve a stand-alone solar powered pumping system to move water as quickly as possible between two containers. Students will use light-concentrating materials, shapes, and structures to maximize the collection of simulated solar energy. The energy will then be directed toward a solar cell that will power the system to move the water. There is no deadline to enter.For more information contact: Gerald.W.Voltz@nasa.gov.
Student Launch challenges student teams to design, build and fly a high-powered rocket containing a science or engineering payload. It's open to teams from U.S. colleges and universities, high schools and middle schools. Teams complete a series of design reviews that mirror the NASA engineering design life cycle. Teams must successfully complete a Preliminary Design Review, Critical Design Review, Flight Readiness Review and Launch Readiness Review, which include safety briefings, analyses of vehicle and payload systems and flight test data.
This challenge runs Apr. 20-24, 2023, so registration dates for the 2022/23 challenge will be available late summer. And there are two places the event is hosted: the NASA Launch Complex (with NASA in Huntsville, Alabama) or a commercial spaceport launch site. You'll also need an adult mentor as a team member throughout the project. For more details contact: Fred.Kepner@nasa.gov.
The NASA International Space Apps Challenge (Space Apps) is an international hackathon for coders, scientists, designers, storytellers, makers, builders, technologists, and others in cities around the world, where teams engage (NASA’s) free and open data to address real-world problems on Earth and in space. Better yet, this challenge is open to all ages.
For one weekend each October, participants from around the world come together over a 48-hour period to solve challenges submitted by NASA personnel. After the hackathon, project submissions are judged by space agency experts and winners are selected for one of 10 Global Awards. For more information contact: email@example.com.
The Breakthrough Junior Challenge is an annual global competition for students to inspire creative thinking about science. Students ages 13 to 18 from countries across the globe are invited to create and submit original videos (3:00 minutes in length maximum) that bring to life a concept or theory in the life sciences, physics or mathematics. The submissions are judged on the student’s ability to communicate complex scientific ideas in engaging, illuminating, and imaginative ways. The contest is now open!
High school and undergraduate students are invited to get involved in lunar exploration! Join GLEE for a remote, self-paced workshop for students to work hands-on with their very own LunaSat, a sticky note-sized spacecraft with solar panels and science sensors. In this free, self-guided workshop, participants will be walked through 10 interactive modules, from “Understanding Your LunaSat” to “Final System Testing.” Registration closes on April 4, so don't delay.
The NASA App Development Challenge (ADC) is a coding challenge for middle and high school students. NASA seeks student contributions to deep space exploration missions through this challenge. By responding to the ADC, students take a part directly in the Artemis Generation endeavors to land American astronauts, including the first woman and first person of color on the Moon. The challenge begins on October 5, 2022, and concludes with video submissions on December 14, 2022.
Discover NASA art contests for students
There are also NASA art contests for kids of all ages. Explore a few fun ways to test your student's design thinking and skills.
The Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Space Place challenges young explorers of all ages to think about and draw a space-related situation each month. After the month is over, the team will select a few imaginative drawings to be featured on the NASA Space Place website. Visit the NASA Space Place Art Challenge page to get inspiration for this month's challenge and to learn how to submit your design! The contest is ongoing.
NASA's Commercial Crew Program is holding its annual competition inviting kids ages 4-12 to submit artwork to be featured in their 2023 Commercial Crew Program Children's Artwork Calendar. First, second, and third place artwork will be picked from the age groups 4-6, 7-9, and 10-12 per each of the four themes. The themes for this year's contest are Rockets and Spacecraft, Living and Working in Space, Exploring the Solar System, Astronauts. Entries will be judged on originality and theme. The deadline to submit artwork for this contest is October 27, 2022 at 11:59 PM CDT.
Apply for a NASA internship
If you're interested in NASA, we also wanted to mention there's a cool internship you might want to apply to, with a fast approaching deadline.
GeneLab for High Schools (GL4HS) is a four-week intensive training program for fifteen rising high school juniors and seniors sponsored by NASA's Ames Research Center (near Mountain View, California). GL4HS provides students an opportunity to immerse themselves in space life sciences with a specific focus on omics-based bioinformatics research, the science of collecting and analyzing complex biological data such as genetic codes, and computational biology. And the deadline for applying is coming up soon: February 7, 2023, 5pm EST. For more information contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Try NASA contests for students
From rocketry to art to space biology and more, there are so many amazing space related activities to get involved with in 2023. Be sure to subscribe to our blog for further updates on cool NASA space activities and internships you can get involved with. Or check out even more fun STEM competitions.
Up next, enjoy out-of-this-world fun and learning with space experts. Fine tune your knowledge of space exploration in private Space Careers classes tailored to your individual interests and needs. Recommended for students interested in developing their own space projects, and for those preparing to apply for NASA internships.
Written by Bruce Callow, a Canadian space educator and co-author of the books To the Stars: Costa Rica in NASA, The Intrepids: Costa Rican Women in Science and Technology and To the Stars: Guatemala in Space. Bruce has worked as a communications consultant for former NASA astronaut Dr. Franklin Chang Diaz. He partners in a variety of space education outreach activities with NASA and the Costa Rica Institute of Technology.