Breadcrumb Navigation

Posted in on July 9, 2024

ACCHS student excels in NASA STEM program

Miriam Silva, a rising senior at Arlington College and Career High School, went to the moon this summer.

Sort of.

She was part of a team of budding engineers and scientists who created a lunar landing system and was rewarded with a free trip to NASA’s Johnson Space Center later this month.

Mission Control Center at NASA's Johnson Space Center

Mission Control Center at NASA’s Johnson Space Center

The trip to Houston is the culmination of a year-long program that Silva joined back in the fall after an appointment from her Texas legislator.

NASA’s Texas High School Aerospace Scholars (HAS) program started in 1999 to engage Texas high school juniors with NASA’s missions and inspire them to become the next generation of explorers. HAS was designed to attract and retain students in STEM disciplines critical to NASA’s Artemis program, which will establish the first long-term human presence on the Earth’s moon.

For Silva and more than 800 other high school juniors in Texas, the HAS program started with a 20-week interactive, online STEM course.

“Typically, webinars and meetings were held weekly where I would meet with my NASA technician, who would help me through the work or answer any questions I had,” Silva said. “Throughout the six months, I learned what scientists and engineers have to consider when choosing when and how to land on planetary bodies and the amount of research that is needed to be done.”

That course was followed by Moonshot Week. The weeklong summer experience included briefings and interactions with NASA experts and virtual tours of facilities at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. Plus, students were divided into teams and given the opportunity to apply their newfound knowledge to plan and design a mission to the moon and Mars.

NASA HAS - Delta Dockers 2 patchEach team was assigned a different piece of the mission to plan. Silva and her team of ten students from across the state – the Delta Dockers 2 – were tasked with creating the human landing system on the moon.

“Essentially, my team was the key system that all the other teams would revolve their mission around,” Silva said. “After deciding these things, we split up the work into roles, where I was put in charge as the systems engineer, meaning that I would meet with the other eight teams and discuss each other’s information.”

At the end of the week, each team created a video to explain their mission and demonstrate their research.

Silva’s Delta Dockers 2 was named one of the top three teams and awarded a free trip to Johnson Space Center at the end of July. The winning teams will get to stay at the Space Center, meet and talk with NASA experts and engage in engineering design challenges.

“I’m looking forward to being able to walk around the space center itself and talk to experts who work in the fields I am interested in,” Silva said. “I believe that it’ll open my eyes to the possibilities out there and potentially new ones.”

When Silva’s space mission ends later this summer, she’ll still have one more year of high school before she plans to go to college and major in physics and engineering.

But she also hopes to continue her space journey.

“After or during my undergrad, I would like to take a semester off to intern at NASA through their internship programs,” she said.

After that, anything is possible. Perhaps Silva will really go to the moon.

“We are very excited to hear about Miriam and her accomplishments with NASA this summer,” said ACCHS principal Ben Bholan. “This is yet another example of her eagerness to always pursue all of the opportunities available to her. We are proud of her ability to collaborate with others and to be a team player who represents ACCHS the right way every day. Congratulations Miriam! We are proud of you!”