The Scientist for a Day Essay Contest can be used as a classroom writing assignment in either English or Science classes. The assignment involves both inquiry-based learning and problem-based learning.

The essay contest meets various U.S. National Standards for English and Science set by the National Council of Teachers of English / International Reading Association, and the National Research Council.

It also addresses topics covered in Next Generation Science Standards, including:

Middle School - MS-ESS1 Earth’s Place in the Universe MS-ESS1-3. Analyze and interpret data to determine scale properties of objects in the solar system

High School - HS-ESS1 Earth’s Place in the Universe HS-ESS1-6. Apply scientific reasoning and evidence from ancient Earth materials, meteorites, and other planetary surfaces to construct an account of Earth’s formation and early history


By participating in the essay contest, students will:

  • Learn about real NASA missions
  • Use data from real NASA missions
  • Apply their critical thinking skills
  • Learn how to conduct research
  • Gain confidence in their ability to "do science"
  • See themselves in the roles of scientists
  • Watch videos by young NASA scientists and engineers, and see that scientists and engineers come from diverse backgrounds
  • See that scientists and engineers have different opinions and priorities when choosing where their spacecraft will target images
  • Learn something new, and form questions about a place they may never have heard of
  • Conduct research using NASA websites
  • Applying their writing skills

The essays of winning students will be published on NASA's Solar System Exploration Website.

U.S. winning students and their classes will have the opportunity to participate in a teleconference or videoconference to ask questions of NASA scientists. (Other countries may offer different prizes to their winners, at the discretion of their country’s national contest coordinator.)

All participating students will receive a certificate of participation with the images of the three moons they studied.

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