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NASA Partner

2024 Collaborative Interactive Data Science Academy

Free NASA Robotics and Data Science Summer Program for 20 students in grades 9-12.

July 15 – 19, 2024

A free, weeklong residential NASA robotics and data science summer experience for high school students.

NASA’s Perseverance, a robotic rover, is actively exploring Mars, collecting data about the planet’s geology, climate and signs of ancient life. Soon, with the Artemis Base Camp at the Moon and the Gateway in lunar orbit, robots and astronauts will use innovative technologies to explore more of the lunar surface than ever before.

NASA Partner

This exciting era of space exploration is driven by data science, computer science, robotics and engineering. Thanks to NASA, Meharry Medical College and Fisk University will introduce these concepts to area students who do not get this exposure at their high schools. We seek to inspire these students to future of scientific exploration through the Collaborative Interactive Data Science Academy.

The Collaborative Interactive Data Science Academy is a residential, week-long summer experience for students who will be in grades 9 through 12 during the 2024 – 2025 school year. The program implements virtual, augmented, and mixed reality control of robotic systems using NASA geospatial and extra-terrestrial big data. Students will build statistical and critical thinking skills through exposure to NASA research and data science tools.

Quick Facts

July 15 – 19, 2024

20 spots available

Eligible students:
The program is for students who will be in grades 9 through 12 during the 2024 – 2025 school year. Students must be nominated by a teacher at their school.

Daytime classes and activities will be held at Fisk University and Meharry Medical College. Students will spend evenings at Fisk University.

Tentative daily schedule

8 – 9 a.m.
9-10 a.m.
Team presentation of previous day challenge results
10 a.m. – Noon
Noon – 1 p.m.
Working lunch with demo
1 – 2 p.m.
NASA SME or Industry professional meeting
2 – 4 p.m.
Hands-on Labs
4 – 5 p.m.
Active learning challenge
5 – 6 p.m.
Dinner with demos and movies
8:30 – 10 p.m.
Optional Astronomical observations activity (Depending on sky visibility)

Learn data science and robotics lessons based on NASA missions

The program will begin with introductions to robotics and sessions outlining spatial data and the function of robots on Earth and in a potential future colonization of the Moon and Mars. Students will then work together in interactive, gaming-like activities inspired by NASA missions using virtual, augmented, and mixed reality (VR/MR/AR).


  • Learn about NASA geospatial and extraterrestrial data and missions.
  • Create an engineered model.
  • Meet professionals who apply big data to operate robotic systems.
  • Program a robot.
  • Analyze NASA datasets for scenarios requiring the application of big data.
  • Explore remote sensing systems and sensors and how they support robotic navigation and control.
  • Discover both educational and career opportunities in data science and robotics.

What is VR/MR/AR?

VR/MR/AR are different immersive experiences that incorporate varying degrees of digital and real information. Using these tools will help students feel as if they are working with real robots on the Moon and Mars.

Augmented Reality (AR)
User views static digital information or visual elements integrated into the real environment.
Mixed Reality (MR)
User interacts with responsive virtual elements integrated into the real environment.
Virtual Reality (VR)
User is immersed in an interactive, digitally-generated environment.

Real time robotics demos and programming
Students design and program the World’s First Bionic Quadruped Robot to transport a payload from a starting position to a target areaqua, deliver the payload in an upright position and return the robot to the starting point.

Inspiring guest speakers

We will also welcome several guest speakers. These sessions will feature area professionals who will share their insights and experiences from working with data science and robots.

Students will also hear from Dr. Sian Proctor, the first Black woman to pilot spacecraft, will share her inspiring story. Dr. Proctor — geoscientist, explorer, space artist, and astronaut — was the mission pilot for the Inspiration4 all-civilian orbital mission to space.

Sian Proctor
Dr. Sian Proctor

College-like experience at Fisk

While daytime activities take place at Meharry, students will also enjoy a college-like experience by living and dining on Fisk’s campus, located across the street from Meharry. This residential component adds additional time for evening astronomical observations by telescope.

Fisk University is a highly ranked historically black university, according to U.S. News and World Report, and is the oldest institution of higher learning in Nashville, Tennessee. 

NASA Partner

The Collaborative Interactive Data Science Academy is possible through NASA funding through the Minority University Research and Education project. In total, more than $3 million was awarded to seven Historically Black Colleges and Universities and one Predominantly Black Institution to strengthen their support for students in traditionally underrepresented and underserved communities in precollege summer programs around the nation.