Quest Under the SSTARS (Solar System Trail for Astronomical Research by Students)

Quest Under the SSTARS (Solar System Trail for Astronomical Research by Students)

The grand opening of a 5.2-mile scale model of the Solar System, newly installed on exercise trails across West Haven City, Utah, took place on May 22, 2021. Solar System Ambassador Jennifer Jones created the permanent exhibit with support from the West Haven City Mayor's Office and students from Quest Academy where she teaches. Images used in this exhibit are anaglyph, with 3D glasses provided for viewing. The Quest Under the S.S.T.A.R.S. event was well attended by the community. After visiting all the festivities in the trailhead park, most visitors walked the 5.2 mile trail to the Kuiper belt and Pluto. Over 800 people have already explored the model. The local newspaper, The Standard Examiner, did a story covering the event:

Guest presenters at the event included:

  • Steven C. Smith, NASA STEM EPDC Specialist, (in person)
  • Lyle Tavernier NASA/JPL STEM Education Specialist, (virtual on-line)
  • Aaron Shepard, former and future NASA intern, (virtual on-line)
  • Jodie Guillen, Space Education Specialist for the Space Foundation, (virtual on-line)

This event was organized in collaboration with the following organizations: West Haven City, Weber County RAMP, the Space Foundation's Teacher Liaison program, Hill Air Force Base EOD, all the local schools in the city, and several local businesses. The city was so enthused by the event that we are already in talks about another event in a year from now, potentially featuring a Mars habitat addition to the playground in the park.

As a sister event to Quest Under the S.S.T.A.R.S., Steven C. Smith, NASA STEM EPDC Specialist also conducted two sessions of teacher professional development at Quest Academy Charter School. These sessions stressed the importance of incorporating STEM education into all subjects of elementary and secondary education.

"It is so critically important for the future of this nation and the world that today's youth, the Artemis generation, be armed with STEM knowledge. Space is a fun and exciting way to hook students into learning more about science, technology, engineering and math. That is why I love putting together events like this that allow students to share what they are learning with the community." -Jen Jones, Solar System Ambassador, Event Organizer and Quest Academy Teacher

SSA Jennifer Jones, center, prepares to cut the ribbon at the grand opening of the Solar System Trail for Astronomical Research by Students.