Manu Kondapi, a student at Horizon Community Learning Center in Ahwatukee recently returned from a week at NASA where she planned a robotics and radiation mission and experienced life as an engineer and scientist.

Kondapi was one of 90 female high school students from 41 states who visited Johnson Space Center in Houston to participate in the Women in STEM High School Aerospace Scholars project, or WISH. NASA sponsored two six-day summer camps for rising high school seniors during late June and early July.

The young women worked in teams with female NASA mentors to develop a radiation and robotics mission. Teams worked on designing a radiation shield that would protect their rover once on the surface of Mars.

They worked within the confines of a fictitious budget and built several small mock-ups of vehicles to demonstrate a successful launch and landing of the Mars spacecraft.

The young women were selected based on completion of interactive, online lessons focused on space exploration and mapped to national education standards, academic merits and geographic diversity.

The WISH program encourages young women to pursue science, technology, engineering and mathematics degrees and exposes them to the real-world applications of STEM careers at NASA.

For more information about WISH, visit wish.aerospacescholars.org.

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