Virtual Trips to Extreme Environments

This NASA-funded program leverages the excitement of NASA research at extreme environments with a virtual mentoring program to increase student interest in STEM careers and STEM identity.

People exploring the desert and the antarctic

VIRTEX will connect Boys & Girls Clubs with researchers who study unique extreme environments. Students meet virtually with these “NASA Mentors” who conduct exciting research in unique laboratory settings and at remote field locations. Through dialogue before, during, and after a virtual fieldtrip with NASA Mentors, students develop an increased understanding of the mentors’ backgrounds, motivations to do research, problem-solving skills, and career pathways, while learning more about unique NASA research and these extreme environments that their mentors work in.


VIRTEX Co-Design Workshop

On October 19 – 20, 2023, VIRTEX will hold a 2-day co-design workshop at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, TX to begin to develop this curriculum, with input from education staff at Boys & Girls Clubs. Travel stipends will be provided to those selected to attend.

Apply now to participate.

Application deadline: September 10, 2023.

Co-Design Workshop goals:

  • Explore a variety of hands-on activities that connect to STEM careers, NASA research, problem-solving skills, and communication and collaboration.
  • Gather input from Boys & Girls Clubs staff on student interests, skills, and experiences.
  • Brainstorm modifications and new activities that will be useful, exciting, and of interest for BGC students ages 10-15.

For more information, contact Christine Shupla at [email protected].


VIRTEX will connect students with researchers working in extreme environments such as:
Aurora borealis over a forest

VIRTEX Team Members and Partners:

Principal Investigator: Dr. Lisa Gaddis, LPI Director

Project Manager: Christine Shupla, LPI Science Engagement Manager

Evaluator: Dr. Sanlyn Buxner, Planetary Science Institute

Education and Engagement Specialists

Lead Mentors


For more information, contact [email protected].

Lunar and Planetary Institute logo

Funded Partners:

University of Alaska Fairbanks logo Planetary Science Institute logo Boys and Girls Clubs Texas Alliance logo ARES logo


ANSMET logo GeoLatinas logo Black in Astro logo Blue Marble logo

VIRTEX is supported by NASA Next Gen STEM, a project of NASA’s Office of STEM Engagement, under cooperative agreement award number 80NSSC23M0078. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

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