Mia Lagunas, Daniela Lopez-Ibarra, and Daniela Cabrales | Photo courtesy YISD
Three Riverside High School students have been selected for the prestigious STEM Enhancement in Earth and Space Science (SEES) virtual summer internship, which takes place in July through the University of Texas (UT) at Austin’s Center for Space Research.
The students chosen for this nationally competitive internship are Mia Lagunas, Daniela Lopez-Ibarra, and Daniela Cabrales, all of whom are sophomores in Riverside High School’s engineering program. In addition, Lagunas and Lopez-Ibarra serve as co-presidents of the school’s Robotics Club.
The SEES internship program, sponsored by NASA’s Texas Space Grant Consortium, aims to increase students’ STEM knowledge through Earth and space education by having them work with scientists and engineers to conduct authentic research from data received from NASA’s Earth observing satellites.
The students will also work on designing Mars habitats, Lunar Exploration, and robotics, as well as conduct hands-on activities and field investigations and attend presentations by NASA subject-matter experts.
Students apply for SEES and are selected competitively. Only 300 internships were awarded this year out of nearly 750 applications received. Due to the pandemic, the student internship will be all virtual in 2021.
Before the internship begins, students will already have conducted 60-90 hours of NASA Earth and Space Science research and Python coding to prepare them for the program.
The excitement students feel about space science is a critical step in enriching STEM knowledge, organizers said. The internship will provide students a unique opportunity to work beside professional scientists and engineers at the cutting edge of space exploration.
The internship program – a collaborative effort of Texas Space Grant Consortium members and affiliates, NASA, and UT Austin – is organized around an aerospace or space science theme that is drawn from NASA’s diverse engineering and scientific research programs, and combines the strengths of collaborators to enrich teaching and learning of STEM.
The purpose of NASA’s Earth science program is to develop a scientific understanding of Earth’s system and its response to natural or human-induced changes, and to improve prediction of climate, weather, and natural hazards.
Earth is a complex, dynamic system that is not yet fully understood. The Earth system, like the human body, comprises diverse components that interact in complex ways. The planet is changing on all spatial and temporal scales, and NASA strives to understand the Earth’s atmosphere, lithosphere, hydrosphere, cryosphere, and biosphere as a single, connected system.
SEES is funded through NASA Cooperative Agreement NNH15ZDA004C and is part of NASA’s Science Activation program.