Windsor student spends week at NASA Langley

Published 8:03 am Friday, August 6, 2010

HAMPTON—Windsor High School student Amanda Pezzuto spent a week of her summer planning a mission to Mars.

Pezzuto was one of 48 rising high school seniors from across the state selected to take part in the Virginia Aerospace Science and Technology Scholars academy. The academy was held July 10-16 at NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton and hosted by NASA Langley in a partnership with the Virginia Space Grant Consortium.

Prior to the academy, students completed a six-month interactive distance-learning program on aerospace exploration that prepared them for their intensive week at NASA Langley.

“It was awesome,” Pezutto said. “We worked really hard to get here. It was really nice to have this camp to heighten the experience of working really hard online. It made it worth it to do really well.”

During the academy, Pezzuto built, programmed and tested robots; toured NASA labs and facilities; talked with NASA researchers, scientists and astronaut Barbara Morgan; and gained solid workforce experience and college credit.

“It’s really been a lot different than I expected, and there are so many people that I’ve gotten to talk to,” she said. “I didn’t expect to have that many resources or get to network that much. It’s been really cool.”

Pezzuto worked on the academy’s Getting There team, which was tasked with getting astronauts from Earth to Mars and back. Getting There was one of four teams that worked together to plan a mission to Mars.

Pezzuto hopes to pursue a degree in engineering;she is considering chemical, nuclear or aerospace.

VASTS is a competitive program that gives high school juniors the opportunity to engage in an on-line NASA-based course that uses a space exploration theme to teach a broad range of math, science, engineering and technology skills. Applications for the 2010-2011 program will be available Sept. 1 and are due by Nov. 5. Selections will be made and coursework initiated in early December.

For more information about VASTS or for an application, visit