NASA Science Writing Challenge

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NASA’s exploration into outer space has historically served to deepen mankind’s understanding of the universe while expanding the frontiers of scientific research. On the Griffin Campus of the University of Georgia, research and education go hand and hand as scientists routinely investigate ways to enhance the quality of life of mankind around the world. The NASA Science Writing Challenge was launched in 2012 and highlighted the research of scientists on the campus while supporting the writing skills of high school students enrolled in schools throughout counties served by the UGA-Griffin Campus. During the six week program, students are matched with scientists to learn more about their research, to observe during experimentation, and to explore expression of the research findings. Research topics are varied, highly intense, and focused on worldwide issues. Areas of study include world hunger, AIDS research, plant breeding, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and remote sensing. At the end of the program, students have the opportunity to write a news story about their experiences. Over 900 million people in the world do not have enough to eat, and quote "98% of the world's undernourished people live in developing countries," according to The Hunger Project. A faculty member at the University of Georgia Griffin Campus, Dr. Dick Phillips, and his colleagues are on a mission to cure world hunger. NASA Science Writing Challenge participant Ally Adams studied under Dr. Phillips and learned that the Hunger Project partnered with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Collaborative Research Support Programs (CRSP) to achieve their goal of identifying cost effective food products that will give adults and children enough nourishment to survive.

Ally: Working with the scientists had allowed me to see a different area of research that I've never even heard of before. Yet the research has proven to be a sound solution for solving a worldwide problem. And just think, it all happens here on the UGA Griffin campus. It was so awesome being a part of the research. Writing about the research from the perspective of a news story was just as great.

Tushar: The Science Writing Challenge was a great experience for me. I got to work with Dr. Williams who is part of the Peanut Collaborative Research Institute. And his research concentrated on HIV and eradicating it from, basically, the world - all the different strains.

A tour of the UGA-Athens campus also provides the students the opportunity to observe college life first hand. As special guests during the EXPLORE Georgia program, NASA Science Writing Challenge students not only have the opportunity to tour the campus but to also meet with college students, counselors, and program advisors to learn critical information.

Mary Ellen: It was wonderful to get an inside perspective about the college.

Remington: I remember seeing the arch, downtown Athens, the entire campus, and the football field.

Tabias: The campus is huge and offers so many opportunities. There is truly something for everyone at UGA.

News stories written by the student participants about the research of their scientists are read and scored by external evaluators using a writing rubric. Three students who earn the highest scores on the rubric receive an all-expense paid trip to NASA’s Advanced Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama. During the week-long experience, students engage insimulated space missions, complete robotics competitions, conduct scientific research, go scuba diving, experience “weightlessness”, meet other students from across the world, and have fun. The 2012 student representatives from the UGA-Griffin campus were all members of Team Von Braun during Space Camp. The team received the "Commanders' Cup" award during the camp.

Ally: Going to Space Camp was one of the best experiences of my life; especially because we got to meet all these international people because it was International Space Camp Week. We have all these groups on Facebook and we connect every day through email and Facebook. And, I even have some people on Twitter.

William: The NASA Science Writing Challenge has really been great. I've learned so much about the research taking place here on the Griffin campus. I was able to tell my story to many others about what I've learned.

Jacques: The 2012 NASA Writing Contest was fun last year. And this year, we'll be having technology in the program, so I think this one will be even more fun this year.

Tushar: I would definitely recommend this program to somebody; especially if you're interested in science because it just feeds onto your passion. And, at the same time, you're learning so much new information it makes you want to start your own independent study like I did, for example. 

© 2013 University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Griffin Campus

Descriptive Text

The video opens to a slide show of NASA Space Camp student participants.

Title Screen

A photo of a space shuttle launch. A photo of a space shuttle on its launching 
rockets. Close up photos of the rockets. A student in a space suit.

The scene moves to photos of the UGA Griffin Campus. A female student working 
in a lab. A male standing next to a pond holds a bottle of water. Students work 
in a lab. An orange weather balloon. A man looks at turfgrass in a lab. A woman 
holds a tray of peanuts.

The scene continues to a female high school student with a male teacher in a 
lab. Lab workers sitting at a table smell different odors from brown bottles. A 
female student gives a presentation in a classroom. A male teacher lectures. 

The scene changes to a photo of an impoverished family. 

A photo of a turfgrass breeding nursery. An aerial photo of farm land. A piece 
of laboratory equipment. Student doing paperwork in a classroom.

A photo of impoverished children sitting on a floor with bowls of food. A photo 
of a group of impoverished women holding their babies. 

A words "The Hunger Project." A man holds an opened can of peanuts. 

A female high school student stands in front of a mock space capsule. 

The USAID logo is shown. Two little girls hold a sign holding a sign with the 
word "Hope" on it. A photo of a soup kitchen serving a group of elderly women. 
A photo of freshly picked vegetables. A photo of raw peanuts in the shell. A 
little girl eats a sandwich.

The scene changes to a female student speaking. A male student is speaking. A 
group of high school students standing in front of the UGA Arch. Three female 
students stand for a photo in front of Sanford Stadium. The students on a UGA 
bus. A group of male students looking at shirts in the UGA Bookstore. The 
students sitting in an auditorium.

The scene changes to a classroom where a professor is lecturing. A photo of the 
UGA Arch. Three students talk about their visit to the UGA Athens Campus. 
Students working in a classroom. Three students holding awards stand with Dr. 
Jerry Arkin. 

The scene moves to the three students hold their paperwork for the NASA Space 
camp. The students in a gift shop. A female student holds probes up to her 
temples. A male student talks with an instructor. Students in a classroom at 
the NASA Space Camp. Students using SCUBA work on an underwater structure. 
Three students pose for a photo. Students listen to an instructor about a 
climbing wall. 

A group photo of 'Team Von Braun.' The NASA Space Camp students walking to an 
awards program wearing blue NASA jumpsuits.

A female high school student talks about her NASA Space Camp experience. A male 
high school student, sitting on stairs, talks about his first experience 
writing for the NASA Science Writing Challenge. A male high school student, 
sitting in a library, talks about the content of his essay for the competition. 
A male student, standing in front of a building, talks about why he 
participated in the NASA Science Writing Challenge. The NASA Logo is shown. 

Credits roll

© 2013 University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Griffin Campus