NASA and Texas Instruments (TI) today launched “The Search for STEMnauts,” a virtual scavenger hunt designed to ignite students’ interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
Each week for the next six weeks, students in sixth through 12th grade will be challenged to solve space-related puzzles for a chance to unlock virtual reward points. The student team with the most points at the end of the challenge will win a prize package that includes TI’s new, limited-edition Galaxy Gray graphing calculator, a $500 Amazon gift card, a NASA swag bag and a live video chat with an astronaut.
The weekly challenges will range in difficulty from beginner to advanced and introduce students to the coding and problem-solving skills NASA employees, including astronauts, use in their jobs every day. From cracking a code using TI’s basic programming language to calculating the travel time between Earth and Mars, students will put their STEM skills to the test.
“The future of space exploration lies in the hands of students in today’s classrooms,” said Peggy Whitson, a NASA astronaut who has been to outer space three times and is currently living and working on the International Space Station, in a statement. “By creating opportunities to encourage teamwork, creativity and problem-solving, we can make learning fun and set students on a course to become the next generation of explorers.”
Students who accept the mission will automatically be entered to win TI’s new Galaxy Gray TI-84 Plus CE. Students will also be invited along on weekly virtual field trips, featuring exclusive, behind-the-scenes access to NASA’s headquarters. Student teams can check out where they stand in relation to their classmates and other competing teams from around the country by following real-time updates to the “Search for STEMnauts” leaderboard on the contest website, STEMnauts.com.
“We’ve added a high-tech, interactive twist to the traditional scavenger hunt that will appeal to all students,” said Peter Balyta, president of Texas Instruments Education Technology, in a statement. “By making a game out of learning important skills, like coding and problem-solving, we hope to foster a life-long love of STEM and open students up to a variety of exciting career opportunities.”
To view the official contest rules and to accept the mission, visit stemNAUTS.com.