For some scientists and engineers, designing something that flies in space might be the pinnacle of a career. NASA now is offering that opportunity to grade school students. NASA, AOL’s Kids Service KOL and Mad Science are teaming up for the NASA Space Pennant Design Challenge, which begins Thursday, March 15. Students will design pennants based on either the upcoming STS-118 shuttle flight or America’s long-term exploration strategy, known as the Vision for Space Exploration. The winning design will fly on the shuttle Endeavour during the STS-118 mission, targeted for launch in summer 2007.

Students need more than just a creative design for their pennants. They must research their topic, apply what they learn, and write an explanation of their design and how the pennant incorporates their knowledge about STS-118 or the Vision for Space Exploration.

Entries may be submitted online or through the mail. The deadline for entries is Tuesday, April 10. Ten semifinalists will be chosen in each of three age groups: 6-8, 9-10 and 11-12. Judges from NASA, KOL and Mad Science will then select two finalists from each group. On May 3, those six finalists will be announced, and one overall winner will be selected through online voting.

The STS-118 mission will be the first flight of an educator astronaut and an important step in the ongoing assembly of the International Space Station. The Vision for Space Exploration is the program that will see humans return to the moon then travel to Mars and beyond. Through the process of designing a pennant, students have the opportunity to learn about the requirements of spaceflight and the science surrounding NASA’s programs while gaining a lasting understanding about the importance of space exploration.

The grand prize will include a trip to the STS-118 launch for the student and a parent or guardian. Each of the six finalists will receive an autographed picture of the STS-118 shuttle crew, and an online NASA game will use their pennant design. A NASA Space Day, featuring a speaker from the agency, will be held at the finalists’ schools. The schools also will receive NASA education resources, including seeds that have flown in space. All students who submit entries will receive certificates of participation.

Through the NASA Space Pennant Design Challenge, NASA continues its tradition of investing in the nation’s education. To compete effectively for the minds, imaginations and career ambitions of America’s young people, NASA is focused on engaging and retaining students in education efforts that encourage their pursuit of disciplines critical to NASA’s future engineering, scientific and technical missions.

For more information about the challenge, visit: For details on the STS-118 mission and its crew, visit: