Karen Shakespear




Karen Shakespear, an 8th grade student at Laing Middle School in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina, was honored in Washington, DC in May for receiving top honors. Karen won First Place in the 18th annual NASA Space Science Student Involvement Program (SSIP) for her two-dimensional illustration depicting a scene from intergalactic space, and her accompanying essay. Karen was one of only 29 students to be recognized nationally. Almost 10,000 students entered the competition nationwide.

"My illustration is of a large gas planet with a ring similar to Saturn's and three visible moons. I chose this image because it is what I think of when I think of space. The colors are not entirely realistic, but I think they convey a sense of wonder and mystique. The stars and galactic dust in the background give a feeling of distance and time that is a major part of anything to do with space... One method of understanding this is through fractal geometry, which is based on similar patterns repeating at different scales. "

Award Winner, Karen Shakespear

The competition, sponsored by NASA and administered by the National Science Teachers Association, is an interdisciplinary program designed to address the need for greater literacy in the areas of science, critical thinking and creative expression.

"I wanted my students to do the SSIP Intergalactic Art contest because it gave them an excellent opportunity to explore science in a very different way, by creating a vision of an abstract scientific concept. Karen is very creative and has a remarkable ability to represent her ideas visually. She worked hard researching and creating her image to complete the project, and everyone is proud of her achievement."

Laing Science Teacher and Sponsor, Nancy Parson


Karen's award consisted of a one week, all-expenses paid trip to Washington DC for her and Laing science teacher, Robin Sheek. Karen also was given one week at Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama, this summer.

"The trip to DC was wonderful. The best part was realizing that there are other people who do projects like this, not for the extra credit, but because they love learning and designing and sharing."

Karen Shakespear

Karen's Essay About Her Art and Her Trip

Karen's work will be displayed, along with other award-winning designs, in museums, schools and other public sites throughout the year. This picture shows the exhibit at Space Day 98 held on the Mall in Washington DC.