NASA National Student Challenges

NESSP’s student challenges program brings our STEM education expertise to educators and students across the United States. Challenges center around a specific scientific topic or NASA mission and create opportunities for educators to participate in NESSP-provided professional development and for students to work together in teams to tackle STEM topics. Challenges culminate in events at regional hubs around the U.S., with top teams earning visits to NASA centers such as Johnson Space Center, Goddard Space Flight Center, Kennedy Space Center, Ames Research Center, and the Jet Propulsion Lab.

Current Challenge

ROADS on icy worlds logo

ROADS on Icy Worlds (2021-2022)

Our ROADS program (Rover Observation And Drone Survey) is a framework that lets students explore STEM concepts through hands-on activities. ROADS takes inspiration from real NASA projects and guides students on a space-related mission. Each year we update ROADS to tackle different science and engineering problems and to visit different solar system bodies. For 2021–2022 we’re going to icy worlds!

Lean more about ROADS on Icy Worlds (2021-2022)

Past Challenges

ROADS on Asteroids (2020 – 2021)

The ROADS on Asteroids challenge gives teams of students grades 3–12 a chance to tackle a mission to the asteroids. Teams will plan and simulate a mission to the “snowman” feature on the asteroid Vesta (see below). The mission will include an impactor from height onto the surface, drone landing and takeoff, and robotic navigation across potentially hazardous surfaces to look for the building blocks for life.

ROADS on Asteroids (2020 – 2021)

ROADS on Mars – Freestyle! (2020)

Even when a NASA crew isn’t on an active mission, everyone is still working and maintaining readiness in one way or another. Mission Control staff run simulations to practice their skills. Astronauts train in the Neutral Buoyancy Lab to prepare to work on the International Space Station.

ROADS on Mars – Freestyle! (2020)