Published by The Coast Star on November 7, 2002

By Andrea Agardy
InfoAge, the non-profit organization which operates a science and history center at Camp Evans, recently became involved in a project which will allow school children from around the world to take an active role in the exploration of space.

InfoAge volunteers have been chosen as judges in the Red Rover Goes to Mars essay contest.   The contest is sponsored by The Planetary Society and Lego.

InfoAge Director Fred Carl said InfoAge applied for the judging position several years ago and is looking forward to participating in the project.

The contest, which is open to students between the ages of 12 and 16, gives children the opportunity for hands-on participation in NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover 2003 mission. In addition to accepting entries from American students, the contest is also open to children in 14 other countries including Finland, Hungary, Vietnam and Germany.

To enter the competition, students must write an essay of 1,500 words or less to explain how they would use the Mars rover to explore the ‘red planet.’   Students are also required to submit an application along with their essay. Entries must be received no later than March 15, 2003.

Once the applications and essays have been received, the regional centers, which in the United States includes Camp Evans on the east coast and two other centers in California, will pass along their recommendations to the national center, which is also located in California.  The national center will then send a list of finalists to The Planetary Society, which will have the final decision in choosing the team of  student astronauts. The student astronauts, in. teams of two, will visit scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratories in Pasadena, Calif., for one week during the first three months of the Mars Rover missions, scheduled for early 2004.

While at the lab, students will take on the role of researchers and scientists as they help analyze images and data as the rover returns the data to earth.

In addition to the experience of working side by side with the scientists, the student astronauts will also share their experiences with children the world over via the Internet.

The team of InfoAge judges will be headed up by Dr. Constella Hines-Zimmerman, program director of Fort Monmouth’s Integrated Community Outreach Network [ICON].  Mr. Carl said additional InfoAge volunteers will assist in the judging process.

Mr. Carl pointed out that Infoage’s participation in the Red Rover competition is not Camp Evans’ first venture into the final
frontier.

Mr. Carl said Camp Evans has long history in space exploration In 1946, scientists from the Signal Corps Research Labs a Camp Evans pierced the ionosphere, successfully bouncing radio waves off the moon, proving that communication between earth and space was indeed possible. In 1960, Camp Evans serves as one of the stations tracking the Pioneer V spacecraft.

Mr. Carl said that in addition to judging contest entries, InfoAge has also been given the responsibility of spreading the word about the project.

“We have a list of the 53 district superintendents and the New Jersey Science Teachers Association to generate interest,  Mr. Carl said.

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