Announcing the five finalists of the national challenge

Today, the U.S. Department of Education announced the five finalists in CTE Mission: CubeSat, a national challenge to build technical skills for careers in space and beyond. Finalists will each receive $5,000 and in-kind prizes that they may use to build CubeSat (cube satellite) prototypes in the second phase of the challenge.

The Department issued the challenge to inspire students to gain skills for a range of careers and help high schools explore approaches that infuse more science, technology, engineering, and math in career and technical education (CTE).

Meet the challenge finalists

From August to October, high schools across the country created mission proposals for CubeSat projects. CTE teachers led teams from 22 states as they developed missions for studying topics important to their own communities, as well as broader space exploration.

“What impressed us most about the mission proposals was students’ enthusiasm to take on complex and ambitious projects — many of which focused on issues similar to what our national space missions are currently tackling.”
—    Scott Stump, Assistant Secretary for Career, Technical, and Adult Education at the U.S. Department of Education

The finalists were recommended by a judging panel, including experts from Nation of Makers, Northrop Grumman Space Systems, SkillsUSA, University of Southern California, and Virgin Orbit. 

Congratulations to the finalists:

  • Anderson Clark Magnet High School (La Crescenta, California) is studying whether local encampments are in high-risk wildfire areas, with the goal of helping the local fire department save lives of people without housing.
  • Freeport High School (Freeport, New York) is measuring Earth’s surface temperature to study the differences in heat absorption and retention between urban and rural areas.
  • Mooresville High School (Mooresville, North Carolina) is measuring the effect of their town’s population growth on air quality, land use, and temperature.
  • Opelika High School (Opelika, Alabama) is collaborating with Columbus High School and Northside High School (Columbus, Georgia). The team plans to collect performance data for a new type of core material used in NASA-grade fluxgate magnetometers, which are used to study Earth’s changing magnetic field.
  • Princeton High School (Princeton, New Jersey) is collaborating with Montgomery High School (Skillman, New Jersey). The team wants to optimize space missions by examining topics such as atmospheric pressure density or habitable planetary environments.

What comes next: Finalists enter Phase 2

During Phase 2, which runs from January to May 2021, the finalists will have access to expert mentorship and additional virtual resources as they build CubeSat prototypes and plan flight events to launch their prototypes. The Department understands that due to current conditions, schools will need flexibility to safely collaborate when building and launching prototypes.

The prizes include development kits and expert mentorship donated to the Department from Arduino, Blue Origin, Chevron, EnduroSat, LEGO Education,, MIT Media Lab Space Exploration Initiative, and XinaBox.

Use CubeSat projects to help students develop new skills

CTE Mission: CubeSat encourages interested students and teachers everywhere to start their own CubeSat projects by using the challenge resource hub. The hub offers curated educational resources, including virtual sessions with experts from academia, government, and industry.

Stay updated on the national challenge

To receive Phase 2 updates and other challenge news, subscribe to the CTE Mission: CubeSat newsletter.

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