Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Students can get scholarships to Space Lab

Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute will award scholarships to high school students from counties in Western North Carolina for the Space Science Lab.

Interested students should contact their high school science teacher or PARI Education Director Christi Whitworth (828-862-5554 or cwhitworth@pari.edu).

“PARI has conducted the SSL for the past three years,” said Whitworth, “and the program has proven so valuable that the Burroughs Wellcome Fund Student Science Enrichment Program has extended funding for three more years. The funding provides full scholarships for 30 high school students each summer. The scholarships include all costs for room, board, instruction and materials, and each student also receives a monetary stipend.”

This summer the SSL students will learn about lunar impact craters and how they are detected. Each student will live on the PARI campus for a week during the summer studying the lunar surface. They will learn to use a robotic PARI telescope for observations and build their own telescopes that can be used to detect and photograph lunar impacts by meteors.

“The motivation for the Space Science Lab,” Whitworth said, “is the hope that by becoming resident scientists at PARI, students will become interested in pursuing careers in research or other science-related areas. SSL students become excited about science because they can learn by doing. At PARI, we can make science fun--- which is a critical first step in making it interesting. During the SSL experience, our students learn
and develop skills in digital imaging, computer sciences, astronomy, physics and earth sciences. They take their telescopes home with them for continued observations and school-related projects.”

The SSL students will contribute their observations to the Lunar Impact Team at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. As part of the collaboration, the SSL students will participate in videoconferences with the NASA Lunar Impact Team and will share their observations with scientists from around the world.

For more information about the program, visit www.pari.edu/programs/students/ssl.

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