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The Countdown is on for the WPS CTE – NASA Joint Project

 group of highschool students standing together in a NASA hanger smiling

Later this month, four Westminster High School students will join NASA scientists on Wallops Island, Virginia for the final stage of their mission to learn more about the high-altitude environment and its impact on winter snowstorms along the eastern seaboard.

Students in the high school’s Aerospace and Video Production pathways have been documenting the research effort while also gathering their own scientific data. They will be in Virginia from February 21-26 with one of two airborne science aircraft conducting research along the east coast.

The NASA P-3 Orion aircraft, taking off from Wallops Island, is a former U.S. Navy aircraft modified by NASA to conduct science experiments around the world. It’s capable of flying up to 14 hours at altitudes of up to 28,000 feet. While students in Virginia document the flight of the P-3, a second plane, the ER-2 High-Altitude, will be taking off from Dobbins Air Force Base in Georgia to fly the same route. Scientists will then compare the data from the two aircraft.

WHS students have been doing their own high-altitude research projects to study weather patterns. In January of 2021, they conducted experiments using a weather balloon and in November of last year, student-created payloads were flown out of Wings Over the Rockies at Centennial Airport.

In addition, late last year, students traveled to Palmdale, California to document preparations for the ER-2 High-Altitude mission.

Learn more about the NASA weather science projects known as IMPACTS here.

“This is a rare opportunity for high school students to collaborate and interact with various industry partners as well as NASA scientists,” said Robert Ferguson, CTE Project Lead the Way teacher at Westminster High School. “I am so proud of their hard work and innovative projects that they have created for this opportunity.”

The documentary film produced by the students will be shown at the Westminster Alamo Drafthouse Theater on Wednesday, May 10.

Recent NASA Trip Photo Gallery

Enjoy these photos from a recent NASA trip for our students.