Blue Ridge and J.L. Simpson Middle students code solutions – For NASA’s future deep space journey

Students from Blue Ridge and J. L. Simpson Middle Schools have teamed up to create an App that provides solutions for NASA’s Deep Space Mission.

Students at Blue Ridge Middle School in Purcellville and J. L. Simpson Middle School in Leesburg are participating in NASA’s App Development Challenge (ADC), led by the Johnson Space Center’s Office of STEM Engagement. NASA’s App Development Challenge is a computer coding challenge, part of the agency’s Next Gen STEM Project. In it, NASA presents technical problems for future exploration missions to middle and high school students.

By responding to the App Development Challenge, students take part directly in the Artemis Generation endeavors to land American astronauts, including the first woman and the next man, on the Moon by 2024. In this ADC, students have worked to develop an app that visualizes the South Pole region of the Moon, and displays essential information for navigation and communication.

Mrs. Angela Fraser, CAMS (Coding at Middle School) teacher at both schools, organized assistance from Dr. Patrick White, the Lab Director at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. Mrs. Fraser’s students, “Team MoonLanding,” used teamwork, collaboration, and programming skills over a seven-week period to create and submit their app designs for consideration by NASA.

Teams with favorable submissions advance to present their app in an interview with engineers and scientists working with NASA’s Space Communications and Navigation (ScaN) team. SCaN provides communications services that are essential to the operations of NASA’s space flight missions. After interviews, NASA will select the Top Team(s) for a virtual culminating event in February.

“Projects that allow collaboration between schools and directly apply course standards in real world application exactly defines our division’s project-based initiative. I am so impressed with the work of these students, their teacher, and our consultant, Dr. White,’’ said Brion Bell, Principal of Blue Ridge Middle School.

Said J.L. Simpson Middle School Principal Lenny Compton, “We believe students should have an empowering education with exceptional experiences. A project like this with the depth of understanding, collaboration, and application will have an indelible impact in our students’ belief about how they can continue to impact the world — and beyond. Thank you, Mrs. Fraser and Dr. White!”

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