NASA Seeks STEM Adventurers

If there is one way to inspire students to pursue STEM fields, it is by appealing to their inner child, that part of them that wishes to explore and discover new and wonderful things. Couple that with an opportunity to work at NASA (which is considered one of the best places to work) and students will have little difficulty seeing the appeal of a STEM career.

NASA is currently offering an incredible opportunity for American students and graduates already in STEM fields to apply to be an astronaut.

According to the ad, “Today, more new human spacecraft are in development in the United States (U.S.) than at any time in history, and future Astronaut Candidates will have the opportunity to explore farther in space than humans have ever been.”

In the words of one famous (fictional) space explorer, this position will afford U.S. citizens the chance to “explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before.”

From now until 4:30 pm CST February 18, 2016, qualified applicants can apply to be in the next class of astronauts.

What are the Requirements for Being a NASA Astronaut?

There are several important requirements in order to be considered for the astronaut position.

  1. Applicants must have a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited school in engineering, biological science, physical science, computer science, or mathematics. An advance degree is preferred.
  2. Applicants must have at least three years of related, “progressively responsible professional experience.” According to an Ask Me Anything thread on Reddit, NASA Astronaut, Shanon Walker, and NASA Manager for Astronaut Selection, Anne Roemer, clarified that “an advanced degree is desirable and may be substituted for experience as follows: master’s degree = 1 year of experience, doctoral degree = 3 years of experience. The related experience must be related to STEM, but not necessarily what you earned your degree in.” Alternatively, applicants could apply if they possess at least “1,000 hours of pilot-in-command time in jet aircraft.”
  3. Applicants must be physically fit and “pass the NASA long-duration astronaut physical.” To pass the physical, candidates must have 20/20 vision in both eyes and meet the “anthropometric requirements” for the various spacecraft. The job ad doesn’t go into detail about what these “anthropometric requirements” are, but if applicants are interested in learning more, they can review a NASA-level standards document.
  4. Applicants must use the USAJOBS Resume Builder to submit their resume.
  5. In addition to a resume, candidates need a minimum of five references with a corresponding email address for each reference.
  6. Lastly, candidates need to upload a “legible copy of Official or Non-official Transcript(s)” and said “transcript(s) must show type of degree conferred and date conferred.”

Teaching Resources

While many of your students may not yet be in a position to apply to be an astronaut, the NASA program looks for new applicants every four years or so. You can inspire your students to pursue this future career option with the following resources:

  • The Expedition Earth and Beyond (EEAB) program provides 5th grade and higher with pictures taken by astronauts aboard the International Space Station.
  • The Educator Astronaut Program (for K-12 educators) trains educators “to carry out all of the tasks and responsibilities that Mission Specialist astronauts are qualified to perform.”
  • The Train Like An Astronaut program let’s kids “explore mission challenges, learn the science behind nutrition, and learn to train like an astronaut!”