Aspirnautâ„¢ Program

A Good Idea


Aspirnautâ„¢ is a K-20 Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) pipeline program that partners the experiential and content expertise of Vanderbilt University with rural K-12 schools. The goal is to increase STEM achievement and increase the number of rural students entering the STEM workforce.

The Aspirnaut Program provides technology to rural middle-school and high-school students that allows them to take advantage of educational opportunities that may be physically distant.

Interactive STEM labs are delivered by video conference into rural elementary and middle school classrooms. There is also a 6-week internship program for high school and undergraduate students. Students work with a team of scientists for six weeks on diabetes, cancer, and regenerative biology projects. In addition, students participate in mentorship, career planning, and networking opportunities.

Goal / Mission

The goal of the program is to elevate math and science achievement of students in rural communities through the use of technology.

Results / Accomplishments

Currently 500 students in 4 states participate in STEM video conference labs annually. Early pilot data suggests that there is an impact on individual student growth in science. In four summers (2009-2012), 43 students have completed high school summer research internships. Of the 28 who have finished high school (no dropouts), 27 are in college and 25 are majoring in STEM-related studies. Twenty-eight (28) undergraduate internships have been completed; all students in STEM majors.

About this Promising Practice

Primary Contact
Erika Thompson
Vanderbilt University Medical Center
1161 21st Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37232-2103
Education / School Resources
Education / School Environment
Date of implementation
Geographic Type
Arkansas, Maine, Montana, Tennessee
For more details
Target Audience
Children, Teens