Q&A: Iditarod Elementary Youth Talk About Their NASA STEM Challenge Experience

Students from five afterschool programs located in Mat-Su and Fairbanks participated in the 21st Century Community Learning Center (CCLC) NASA STEM Challenge earlier this year. This Challenge allowed students to demonstrate their engineering design skills and collaborate directly with NASA experts during out-of-school time to gain firsthand, real-world experience in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).


Five youth from Iditarod Elementary School in Wasilla shared a little bit about their experience working on their challenge “Parachuting onto Mars,” where teams designed, built, and tested a drag device.


Q: Why did you want to be a part of the NASA STEM Challenge?


Arianna: I wanted to join NASA because I thought it would be a chance to learn and express myself.


Nathan: I wanted to be in the NASA STEM Challenge because I love engineering and everything to do with space.


Q: What was your favorite part of the Challenge?


Kaleb: My favorite part of the NASA STEM Challenge was the testing of prototypes.


Nathan: Designing the shuttle with my team.


Arianna: My favorite part was building the prototypes.


Q: What new skills did you gain from participating in the Challenge?


Thomas: I gained cooperation from working as a team.


Liam: It helped me work on my teamwork.


Q: How did you feel after talking directly with a NASA scientist/engineer?


Kaleb: I felt less stressed speaking to a NASA engineer.


Thomas: I felt special because not many people get to do that.


Q: Did the NASA STEM Challenge make you think about pursuing a career in STEM?


Thomas: I already wanted to have an engineering job, but this challenge assured me.


To find out what these students, and other students from across the state designed for the “Parachuting onto Mars” or “Why Pressure Suits?” challenges, check out their videos showcasing their work here.