Growing up in Houston, I have always been interested in space since NASA was right in my backyard. I loved space so much that I made it my career and even wrote a children’s book about space exploration. With the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 landing on the moon this year, the story of this great accomplishment is an excellent opportunity to get your kids interested in space, too.
Why do we want kids interested in space?
Great question. The bulk of the current workforce in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields is rapidly reaching retirement. According to a recent study by the National Science Foundation, “the retirement of large numbers of experienced workers could mean the loss of valuable science and engineering expertise and knowledge.” But also the retirement of older workers could make some room for new STEM workers who may bring updated skills and new approaches to solving problems.
Not only that, but the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology stated recently that the United States would need to increase graduates with STEM degrees by 34 percent over current rates to match the forecast for demand. So there is clearly a need for STEM skills and great opportunity for these jobs in the near term.
But space is really cool, too
I have spent the past 25 years of my career in the space industry. Early on, I thought I needed to work in the “real world” and left to do marketing for a law firm for a little while. Making attorneys millions of dollars a year while toiling away in a gray cubicle was not as rewarding as I thought it would be. And when the Columbia accident happened, I was drawn back to space and have been there ever since.
My daughter was interested in space at a very young age
When Ava was about three, she started getting interested in space. We even shot our family photos the year she turned four in the historic Mission Control Center where all of the Apollo missions were managed. That’s a pretty cool perk for both parents working at NASA. She loved space so much that I wrote a book about her.
Princess Ava’s Great Space Adventure captures Ava’s love for space and for being girly. She said once that spacesuits should come in pink with sparkles. She made a very strong point that girls could be both smart and girly and I captured that with this book as best I could. If you don’t have a copy, I’d love it if you would get one for your kids. It’s great for boys and girls. And it is really cool to see that NASA is looking to have a woman be the next human to set foot on the Moon’s surface. I can’t wait for my kids to see that.
Our son has an amazing space themed room
Sure it is a little cliche’, but when I found out I was pregnant at 40, I knew I was going to raise this kid with a passion for space exploration. We went all out with a cool space bedroom theme, complete with actual mission logos from NASA’s Mission Control Center in Houston. Now that the little guy is older, he still loves space. His favorite thing to do is run around the house dressed up like an astronaut pretending to walk on the moon!
Speaking of setting foot on the moon, the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing is a big deal
To circle back to the Apollo anniversary, I can’t stress how much of a big deal this is. It was an amazing accomplishment done with the collective perseverance of the NASA team and less technology than you have in your iPhone. Each time I set foot in the historic Apollo Mission Control in Houston I am in awe of the people who made this happen. Those who dedicated their careers to driving innovation and human exploration further than we ever could have imagined. Apollo laid the foundation for the Space Shuttle Program, which set the stage for the International Space Station. And all of this is taking us to that next giant leap – to establish a sustainable presence on the Moon and send humans on to Mars. NASA has lofty goals – that is basically their mission – to have lofty goals and accomplish them.
Space has been my higher calling
There’s just something about working in a field that directly contributes to expanding the sphere of all that is possible. For me, space has been a higher calling. Where else can you work directly on programs that are leading humans to take even bigger leaps than Apollo? To reach Mars and beyond. To explore other solar systems with advanced spacecraft that beam imagery from deep space objects back to Earth for our wonderment and discovery? Each day I am thankful that I have the privilege to be a part of the history and the future of space exploration. I’m hopeful to continue to be a part of these aspirations.
Sure, there are things here on earth, in our own backyards, that deserve our attention and tax dollars. I wholeheartedly agree with that. But we have to have dreamers amongst us who can see beyond our fences, our borders and the gravity of our existence. It’s the dreamers and the explorers who push the boundaries of what’s possible and keep the human race moving on to what’s next. I hope you inspire your kids to dream. Or at the very least, to look up and think about those brave men who walked on the moon all those years ago and why they gave so much for that cause.
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