NASA Scientist for a Day - Kaipūtaiao NASA mō te Rā

The New Zealand Space Agency ran its annual ‘NASA Scientist for a Day - Kaipūtaiao NASA mō te Rā’ writing and science competition during Term 1, 2021.

NASA scientist for a day banner

Entries for the 2021 competition closed Wednesday, 7 April 2021. Read the winning essays below. 

Stayed tuned for further announcements about the 2022 competition.

About the competition

NASA Scientist for a Day - Kaipūtaiao NASA mō te Rā is a worldwide competition that NASA put on each year inviting students to write a 300-word essay to answer a question about our unique solar system and the exciting word of astronomy.

For the 2021 competition, students were asked to learn about three moons of Uranus — Ariel, Oberon and Titania, then write an essay of up to 300 words explaining which of these moons they would want to explore with a robotic spacecraft.

Students have the opportunity to win some seriously cool prizes and have their essays published by NASA and the New Zealand Space Agency!

The competition encourages teachers to take up further space education as part of their curriculum. Giving students an insight into the wonders of space and teaching space exploration is a powerful tool to inspire and engage their interest in STEM subjects and space careers.

2021 prizes

The overall winner of each category will receive a 6" Dobsonian telescope from Astronz and the help of their local Astronomical Society to learn how to use them.

Runners-up each receive binoculars from the Wellington Astronomical Society.

Teachers of the 10 finalists each receive a unique, 3D mini model of the planet Uranus organised by the New Zealand Astrobiology Network.

2021 winners

Our 2021 winners were

  • Sophie Ineson of Southland Girls High School (Year 7 to 8) and
  • Lucia Mochel of Whangamata Area School (Year 9 to 10).

Read their winning essays below.

2021 winners

Our two runners-up from 2021 were:

  • Katherine Hubbard of Thorndon Primary School (Year 7 to 8) and
  • Zeph Zhong of Takapuna Grammer School (Year 9 to 10)

Read their winning essays below.

runners up

Special thanks to the teachers of the winners and runners-up:

  • Rebecca Whatley — Whangamata Area School
  • Sharee Ineson — Southland Girls’ High School
  • Matt Boucher — Thorndon Primary School
  • Kate Greenslade — Takapuna Grammar School

Special thanks also to the Wellington Astronomical Society for helping organise the prizes.

Read essays from previous winners
Last updated: 14 June 2021