Washington Aerospace Scholar Program Accepting Applications

The Museum of Flight’s Washington Aerospace Scholars program was created in partnership with NASA and offers a pathway to college credits for high school students.

High school students who complete the Washington Aerospace Scholars program are eligible to earn five science credits from the University of Washington. [Courtesy: Museum of Flight]

If you are a high school student (or you know one) in Washington state with an interest in applied science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM), you may want to check out the Washington Aerospace Scholars (WAS) program through the Museum of Flight in Seattle. The museum is accepting applications for the program for the 2022-2023 class.

WAS is open to high school juniors. The participants who complete the program have the option to earn five science credits from the University of Washington.

The program provides lessons in Earth and space science and NASA history, and offers the participants the opportunity to meet and interact with STEM industry professionals and take part in hands-on engineering activities. In addition, the participants have access to a national alumni network that tracks student progress from high school all the way until after college graduation.

Applications are being accepted until October 23. More information about the program of application process may be found here.

The WAS program was created in the mid 2000s by astronaut Bonnie Dunbar, in partnership with the Museum of Flight and NASA.

"The first graduating alumni class from the Museum of Flight was in 2007," Janice Crew, WAS program manager, said. "The program is based on the High School Aerospace Scholars program established at [NASA’s] Johnson Space Center in 2000."

The program has two phases, Crew explained. Phase 1 is available online for free. The online coursework encompasses approximately 135 hours.

"It was very popular during the pandemic," she said, noting, "we usually have about 150 to 200 students in the program. During the pandemic we had 270 students in the online program."

Phase 2 involves a six-day residency at The Museum of Flight, where the students work in teams to plan a human mission to Mars. The residency program provides an educational experience for about 40 students a week.

"They work with mentors from the local aerospace industry," Crew said. "Last August, we had mentors from Blue Origin, and Boeing, and other aerospace companies from around Puget Sound."

Students also tour local aerospace companies, like Skills Inc., and participate in rocket launching at South Seattle Community College.

The summer residency program costs around $1,025 per week. For families that qualify, there is tuition assistance made possible by grants and museum donors.

According to Crew, more than 80 students have received tuition assistance for the program since 2016.

Many of the WAS graduates stay in touch with the museum as well, and pursue STEM interests in college. According to the Museum of Flight, "over 70 percent of the over 2,000 college-aged WAS alumni are currently involved in a STEM college or career pathway."

Meg Godlewski has been an aviation journalist for more than 24 years and a CFI for more than 20 years. If she is not flying or teaching aviation, she is writing about it. Meg is a founding member of the Pilot Proficiency Center at EAA AirVenture and excels at the application of simulation technology to flatten the learning curve. Follow Meg on Twitter @2Lewski.

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