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Students Reach For The Stars In NYC

March 25, 2011

NASA Holds Education Forum to Inspire the Next Generation of Explorers

In celebration of Women’s History Month, more than 200 students from several New York City schools participated Tuesday, March 22, in a special event that included hearing from NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver and Associate Administrator for Education Leland Melvin. The students also got the opportunity to talk with astronaut Cady Coleman on the International Space Station.

Coleman answered students’ questions during an in-flight education downlink, and at the end of the question and answer period encouraged students to know and believe that they could do and be anything that they want.

“When you’re thinking about what you’d like to be, you can be anything. I sincerely believe that,” said Coleman. “You don’t have to know what it is yet, but this is the time to get ready. And by coming to an event like this, you are getting ready.”

Participating in Tuesday’s event were middle school and high school students from the Women’s Academy of Excellence, the Promise Academy, the New York City Housing Authority and the General D. Chappie James Middle School of Science.

The theme of the event was “Our History Is Our Strength — Our Energy Fuels the Future.” The purpose was to encourage young people, especially girls, to pursue their dreams and realize their tremendous potential.

In her address at the event, NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver encouraged students to pursue their dreams, whatever they are. “One of our greatest responsibilities at NASA is inspiring the next generation of explorers to work hard and pursue their dreams,” Garver said. “It is my hope that some of those dreams include careers in science and engineering.”

The day featured sessions focused on female empowerment, social responsibility, and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics careers. One of the sessions showcased careers and allowed students to speak directly with women who have been trailblazers in their careers. NASA Women in the career session included Garver, Associate Deputy Administrator for Policy Integration Rebecca Spyke Keiser, and other trailblazers from across the agency.

NASA collaborated with fashion designer Donna Karan’s Urban Zen Foundation and the Foundation For the Advancement of Women Now, or FFAWN, created by singer Mary J. Blige. FFAWN was formed in 2007 and is dedicated to helping women overcome personal challenges, break persistent barriers and realize their ultimate potential. The Urban Zen Foundation creates, connects and collaborates to raise awareness and inspire change in the areas of well-being, preserving cultures and empowering children.

NASA’s Associate Administrator for Education and former astronaut Leland Melvin said collaborating on events like this supports NASA’s education mission. “The primary focus of NASA’s education mission is to use the excitement and wonder of our programs to ignite a spark for all students to follow STEM studies that can lead to exciting career options,” Melvin said. “By collaborating with organizations like Urban Zen and FFAWN, whose missions are aligned with ours, we can identify and reach out to students who may not otherwise realize the opportunities that are available. That’s important to me and to the agency.”

The downlink with Expedition 27 Flight Engineer Cady Coleman is one of several downlinks with educational organizations in the U.S. and abroad to improve STEM teaching and learning. In-flight education downlinks are coordinated by NASA’s Teaching From Space project. The office promotes learning opportunities and builds partnerships with the education community using the unique environment of microgravity and NASA’s human spaceflight program.

NASA Television began airing the event on Thursday, March 24.

Ann Marie Trotta/NASA Education and Heather R. Smith/NASA Educational Technology Services

Image 1: NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver talks with middle and high school students at the NASA Education forum. Image Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

Image 2: NASA’s Leland Melvin and education specialist Trinesha Dixon with New York high school student (center) awaiting a response from astronaut Cady Coleman aboard the International Space Station. Image Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

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Students Reach For The Stars In NYC