Home > News > Summer Science Program Connects Middle School Students with Robotics, International Space Station

By Jessica Woltjen, Outreach Manager

Fernbank Museum of Natural History and Georgia Tech partnered with GSAN to bring middle school students from across Georgia to Atlanta to participate in a hands-on, Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Field Day last week as part of Zero Robotics, an exciting, project-based summer program for middle school students.



The Middle School Zero Robotics Summer Program began five years ago in the Boston area to provide STEM to underserved populations, and has since grown to host camps around the country. Nationally, Zero Robotics is provided through a partnership between the MIT Space Systems Lab, the Innovation Learning Center, and Aurora Flight Sciences, and with the sponsorship of NASA, the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), and the Northrup Grumman Foundation.


In Georgia, GSAN administers the competitive grant program, selecting six summer programs to participate this year with each program serving up to 20 middle school youth.


“The six programs selected to participate are working with program staff and prominent scientists to learn about programming, robotics and space engineering during this five-week program that culminates in a competition aboard the International Space Station,” said Katie Landes, Director of the GSAN. “One of our main goals with Zero Robotics is to get youth excited about learning and thinking about pursuing a career in STEM. Field day is a big part of this and was made possible through our partnerships with Georgia Tech and Fernbank Museum.”


The day started aDSC_4076t Georgia Tech with tours of robotics labs and hands-on activities in a variety of STEM disciplines. Thanks to Fernbank Museum of Natural History’s generous Community Access Scholarship, the day culminated at Fernbank with a viewing of the new IMAX movie, A Beautiful Planet, free of charge for 90 students. Made in cooperation with NASA and showing daily at Fernbank Museum through September 15, A Beautiful Planet is a breathtaking portrait of Earth and its resources, filmed from the International Space Station. The movie supported the students’ summer curriculum by offering a unique perspective of our planet that helped prepare them for the competition that will take place at the end of the summer aboard the same space station seen in the film.


Most importantly, Fernbank, GSAN and Georgia Tech hope the field day and the rest of the program will inspire students to become the next generation of scientists, engineers and astronauts.


To see additional photos from the event, please click here.