Maine has become the first state in the nation to offer scholarships for a new cutting-edge middle school science course that takes students on a simulated mission to the International Space Station, or ISS, where they learn science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, concepts and skills as if they were part of the station crew. In collaboration with the Maine Space Grant Consortium and the Perloff Family Foundation, The Virtual High School, or VHS, Inc. is currently offering 12 scholarships for Maine students interested in participating in Space Station Academy. The application deadline is Oct. 15.

Space Station Academy was developed by the nonprofit VHS in collaboration with Maine teachers, the Maine Space Grant Consortium and the Technical Education Research Center (TERC), a nonprofit research and development organization.

The 15-week course includes interactives, videos, interviews with astronauts and updates from the real ISS. The five course modules cover three main phases. The first phase is “preflight training” in which students explore the design, structure and primary objectives of the ISS. The next few modules cover the second phase, “on-orbit explorations.” The final module is the “postflight” phase where students face the challenge of reentering the atmosphere.

“The activities not only cultivate science interests, but also develop students’ research, teamwork and communication skills,” said Barstow. “Space Station Academy emphasizes core disciplinary ideas, cross cutting concepts and science practices in life, physical and Earth science. The course is aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards, and, as Maine was a lead state partner in NGSS development, it’s a perfect fit.”

For more information on scholarships for Maine’s Space Station Academy, visit SpaceStationAcademy.org or contact Dan Barstow at [email protected] or by calling (978) 235-3300.