Teens research mission to Mars trip

3…2…1…liftoff!

A Moscow high school teen is ready to send humans to Mars and is traveling to NASA’s Ames Research Center in California this week to meet with the experts.

Nick Pancheri calls himself a science geek. He is ready for space talk when he meets with astronauts and aerospace engineers to discuss a mission to Mars trip.

“This is a dream come true,” said the Moscow High School senior. “The only way to get smarter and better at your passion, is to work with people who are smarter and better than you.”

Nick is researching how to get astronauts to and from Mars back safely.

Nick Pancheri is working with a team of peers on landing details of the Mars shuttle.

“It’s hard work with a lot of detail,” Nick said. “This project consist of teamwork and understanding all the elements of Mars.”

He joined 44 other students from across the state as part of the Idaho Science and Aerospace Scholars program (ISAS). Students are designing and reporting on what it takes to implement a mission to Mars.

“For some students, this is a stepping stone to other areas of science they’ve never been exposed to,” said Jeff Karlin, a science teacher at Lewiston High School. “These students will be future participants in higher level STEM education.”

Photo by Haley Heaton and Jessica Kunzman.

ISAS is a program funded by the State Department of Education and began in 2009. The program allows high school juniors to take a 16-week online NASA-developed course on space exploration through Idaho Digital Learning Academy.

After completing a semester of coursework, the top performing students are invited to participate in a week-long summer academy. Teens collaborate to create a mission to Mars, tour NASA’s Ames Research Center, explore science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers and tour facilities at Boise State University and Micron.

“I’m a total science nerd and this program is helping me figure out what I want to study in college,” said Grace Saathoff, a senior at the Idaho Fine Arts Academy.

Photo by Haley Heaton and Jessica Kunzman.

Students will give a presentation on their Mars mission to parents, teachers and STEM professionals on Saturday at Boise State University. Another 44 students will participate in the second summer academy on July 23.

Do you have a student interested in science? Click here to learn more about ISAS.

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