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Students Launch School Year with NASA

Students Launch School Year with NASA
Posted on 08/30/2018
NASA

On Wednesday, Aug. 29 almost 1000 Charleston County School District students from over 20 schools attended the STEM Career Fair where they saw demonstrations of NASA’s new heavy-lift rocket, the Space Launch System.

The event, hosted by Charleston County, allowed students to explore STEM-related businesses and participate in hands-on learning experiences and interact with NASA staff.

As part of the Career Fair, retired astronaut Dr. Don Thomas spoke to the attending middle and high schoolers and later in the week visited students at St. Andrews School of Math and Science, Angel Oak Elementary, Mary Ford Elementary, Sanders-Clyde School and North Charleston Elementary.

Chad Vail, Work-based Learning Partnerships Coordinator, Career & Technology Education Support Team with the Charleston County School District, said career exploration of this nature not only improve academic performance but improves students' knowledge of career options during the critical years when they are also beginning to venture beyond the orbit of their parents.

The students listened intently as Thomas described his time in space and the many space flight experiences he had. Selected by NASA in January 1990, Dr. Thomas became an astronaut in July 1991. Asked by a student what he took from those experiences, Thomas replied, “it changed me in two ways. I now have a keen appreciation for how fragile the earth is. And secondly, ask yourself how you view your place on planet earth. When I am asked where I’m from I say, ‘I’m from earth’,” he told the students. “We all are. We are all earthlings here and we all have to do our part to take better care of our planet.”

NASASPAWAR was one of the over 25 business vendors on hand. Kelly Thompson, Career Fairs and Career Academies Project Lead for SPAWAR said their participation in the Career Fair and similar events is for a number of reasons. “It helps not only in the workforce but in the community as a whole. But the goals is to get kids interested in science and math, and introduce them to SPAWAR and show them that this is a place that they can come and work locally. We want to keep kids in this area for our workforce.”

Their booth featured Meeper Bots which demonstrated mechanical engineering aspects of toys made of legos with blue tooth capability. The students learned about aero-dynamics, load and various aspects that in turn introduced them to the SPAWAR robotics program.

NASAWando High School 10th grader Ian Barrett was excited to attend the career fair with his engineering class and listen to a real astronaut speak about living in space. And while he has not yet determined his career path, engineering seems like a fun choice he said.

“This is an amazing opportunity for our community for collaboration and commerce,” said event organizer, and Charleston County Government Operations Officer Kevin Limehouse. “We feel this expo was more than just connections with NASA. It allowed like-minded businesses and organizations to meet and work together.”

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