From the early Egyptians to the ancient Greeks, from Galileo to Newton and Einstein to Carl Sagan, the universe has not only fascinated the brilliant minds of scientists but everyday people. As you gaze into the night sky, it is hard not to question what is out there. I will be honest, this has been one of the most difficult posts for me to write. Astronomy and Astrophysics is one of the biggest passions of mine and it was heartbreaking to see the lack of programs and opportunities for students out there to explore this amazing field! So, I wanted to create some awareness and spread the information.
If you are not updated with the recent news in the scientific community, NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope recently discovered 7 earth like planets in a very close by system, out of which 3 planets are in the habitable zone. How amazing is that! Read more at –
Astronomy is one of the oldest sciences known to mankind and is the base for the study of physics, chemistry, biology and other sciences. This discovery and all the other advancements in space exploration centers around the world made me wonder…are there any K12 or college level competitions for students to participate in? Are there any platforms out there for them to showcase and contribute ideas in this ever-growing and brilliant field of science?
Sadly, not as many as you would imagine! After weeks of research, I found that students and astronomy clubs around the world are struggling to find programs they can participate in. So I decided to share all the opportunities that I could find and hopefully help someone out there who is looking for information.
NASA competitions for students
Lets start with the pioneers of space explorations, NASA. The National Aeronautics and Space Admisntration has been a part of our lives for decades. And in addition to making breakthroughs in aerospace and space explorations, they continue to create awareness about education and STEM. If you are curious about the informal, K12 and higher education programs they have available for students and educators, you can check out the information below. Last year I had the opportunity to oversee the workings of two NASA SEMAA Education Labs and it was a wonderful opportunity as well as program –
In addition, NASA offers competitions to participate in and showcase your skills to the NASA community.
- International Space Station Research Design Challenge: Capillary Effects on Liquids Exploratory Research Experiments
Audience: Students in Grades 8-12
Design Submission Deadlines: March 1, 2017
- 2017 NASA Space Settlement Design Contest
Audience: Students in Grades 7-12
Submission Deadline: March 1, 2017
- 2017 OPTIMUS PRIME Spinoff Promotion and Research Challenge
Audience: Students in Grades 3-12
Entry Deadline for Grades 3-8: March 13, 2017
- 2016-2017 NASA College and University Aeronautics Design Challenges: Supersonic Business Jet and Low Noise Subsonic Transport
Audience: Students at U.S. Colleges and Universities
Required Notice of Intent Due: March 20, 2017
Proposal Deadline: June 1, 2017
- NASA’s Centennial Challenges: Vascular Tissue Challenge
Audience: All Interested U.S. Citizens, Including Higher Education Educators and Students
Deadline: No Later Than Sept. 30, 2019
For more details, visit their website at –
USA Astronomy and Astrophysics Olympiad
Founded in 2013, the USAAAO was started by a group of six high school students who were interested in astronomy and astrophysics. They had heard about the Physics and Chemistry Olympiads that currently existed to foster students’ interest in the sciences. When they learned that there was an international-level astronomy Olympiad, and that more surprisingly, the US did not participate, they wanted to change that. They came into contact with each other via email, and collaborated to form the USAAAO (http://www.usaaao.org/about/history)
The USAAAO starts registration in early fall/late winter. Feel free to contact them on information about the competitions, how to join or past competitions!
International Olympiad on Astronomy and Astrophysics
Each year the International Olympiad of Astronomy and Astrophysics takes place in a different country. The 2017 competitions will be taking place in Phuket, Thailand from the 12th – 21st November! Established in 2006, it was initiated by five countries including Thailand, Indonesia, Iran, China and Poland with the aim to proliferate Astronomy among high school students, to foster friendship among young astronomers at international level so as to build cooperation in the field of Astronomy in the future among the young scholars. This year’s registration deadlines are as follows –
- March 1, 2017 – Beginning of pre-registration for country
- April 30, 2017 – Deadline for pre-registration for country
Participating delegates are requested to confirm their participation and provide all registration details.
- May 1, 2017 – Beginning of participant registration
- July 31, 2017 – Deadline for participant registration
For more information visit their website at –
National Astronomy Challenge
If you are currently a student in India, the National Astronomy Challenge is for you! In association with the SRI (STEM Research and Innovation), the NAC provides students in grades 5th to 9th from different regions of the country to participate in this competition. Deadlines are in April, so read more about this year’s challenge and registration information below!
Insight astronomy photographer of the year
Astronomy even has opportunities for those handy with the camera! Send your entries to the Annual Insight Astronomy Photographer of the year competition! Hosted by the Royal Museum of Greenwich in London and with two different entry groups for adults and youths, you can submit your pictures and earn prize money. For more details –
So grab that telescope, open those physics books and get exploring the endless mysteries of that vast unknown universe. Who knows…you might just find that next breakthrough that could change what we know about the laws of nature!
Image courtesy of –
Fine Art America