Forest Knolls Elementary School students swept the competition in this year's NASA Student Involvement Program (NSIP) to win first place in a national middle school division competition, along with numerous other top awards.
NSIP is a national program of six competitions for grades K-12 that link students directly with NASA's missions of exploration and discovery. Nearly 3,500 students developed and submitted more than 1,300 entries in six competition areas: Aerospace Technology Engineering Challenge, My Planet Earth, Design a Mission to Mars, Watching Earth Change, Science and Technology Journalism, and Space Flight Opportunities.
First, second, and third place winners were selected from NASA centers throughout the country, and one national winner was selected from the seven center first-place winning teams for each competition category.
The Forest Knolls fifth grade team of Kappes Chatfield, Michael Harris and Philip Morris won first place in the National Middle School division of the Mission to Mars Competition. Students had to research the planet Mars and decide on a question they wanted their mission to answer. The team wondered why, if Mars looks to be a dead planet, NASA has chosen to look for life there. They related the news that the White House hopes for a manned landing on the planet in 2020, and in their research they discovered that Mars resembles Earth of long ago. They hypothesized that simple forms of life may be found beneath the surface of Mars, where water once existed or may still be trapped. Their efforts will be rewarded with an all-expense-paid week of space camp.
Student entries were judged at NASA centers by teams of scientists, engineers, educators, journalists and other professionals. The Goddard Space Flight Center is this area's regional center.
Several Forest Knolls teams won honors from Goddard Space Flight Center. In the Grades 5-8 Aerospace Technology Engineering Challenge, Kamilah Foley, Nicole Richardson and Taylor Smith took first place, and Jenna Williams and Joanna McKee took second place.
In Science and Technology Journalism: Print, Grades 2-4, Forest Knolls third grade students Khalil Smith and Joseph Pilla won second place for their entry "Learning from the Past, Looking Toward the Future: How Airplanes and Helicopters Influenced Transportation." In the same category, for Grades 5-8, the Forest Knolls fifth grade team of Tracy Betsock and Corinne Foley took first place for "Forest Knolls Students Uncover Amelia's Diary."
Middle and elementary school first place center winners are awarded a special NASA program at their school, and all second and third place winners receive medals. At a formal awards presentation at Forest Knolls on June 4, students were presented with awards from Anne Anikas, director of the Maryland Space Grant Consortium.