Many of us have at one point stared up at the night sky, viewing billions of stars and wondering what could possibly be out there. Children in particular have a vast imagination that allows them to consider and want to explore those possibilities and to dream of a day when they might touch the stars. So many of us wanted to be astronauts when we grew up, and now that most of us have grown up and moved into different facets of our lives, let’s take a minute to explore one of the options that kids have to learn about space and exploration: United States Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama. Various organizations are currently open to applications for Space Camp scholarships, or soon will be, and we here at Twin Cities Geek want to encourage kids to reach out and touch the sky.
The Twin Cities’ own Geek Partnership Society (GPS) has been offering up a scholarship to Space Camp for several years. Kids ages 10 to 14 have the opportunity to apply to the scholarship program and provide a detailed response to a specific topic, which this year’s is “Who is your space industry hero, and how have they inspired you?” Applicants can either submit a 500- to 900-word essay or a 3- to 10-minute video along with their application and a recommendation from a mentor. Besides the application and age restrictions, applicants must live in the local five-state area (Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, North Dakota, and South Dakota), have parental consent, and be able to attend the Space Camp out of state without a parent, among a few other rules. The winner will be required to fill out additional forms for Space Camp and agree to their rules and regulations as well as to represent the Geek Partnership Society while at space camp. They must also attend the 2019 CONvergence opening ceremony for the announcement (the winner and one adult guardian will be given free passes to the convention). Receiving the trip of a lifetime plus a free membership to next year’s CONvergence is a pretty excellent deal. Submissions will be accepted from November 1 through December 16, 2018.
The Mars Generation was founded in 2015 by Abigail Harrison, who at 13 years old was embraced as a next-generation leader of space exploration and at age 18 created this nonprofit organization. It works to nurture interest in STEM, deep-space exploration, and humankind. The Mars Generation scholarship program provides kids ages 15 to 17 who meet the income guidelines for the free and reduced lunch program an opportunity they may never have been able to achieve on their own. Applicants must also live in the continental US, be able to attend the camp without a guardian, and have a teacher or mentor to provide a recommendation and help them through the scholarship process and delivery of the proposed project. Further, the chosen winner must submit a $150 deposit that is refunded once they have attended the camp and completed the outreach presentation, which involves sharing the Space Camp experience with the community. Application and project guidelines for 2019 have not been released yet, but there is a form on the website to sign up for updates when they become available.
Space Camp itself also offers a scholarship program. Submissions must be turned in by November 5, 2018 (coming up soon!), and all applicants will be notified of their standing on February 4, 2019. This scholarship covers tuition and room and board for any six-day individual camp program and is good for one year. It is only available to students in the US who are between 9 to 18 and attending 4th through 12th grade. Applicants must provide two essays based on specific prompts, design and describe a mission patch, describe a science project using the scientific method or engineering design process, and provide two letters of recommendation in addition to the scholarship application. There are four categories in which students can apply: financial need/disadvantaged, special needs, academic achievement, and leadership. All of them require various forms of verification to qualify.
Each of these scholarships fits different needs and requirements. Spread the word and tell teachers, librarians, and other community figures about these once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for the kids in our lives! Because honestly, we all know that space is the final frontier.