A year of Guest Speakers

This year we had the opportunity to have Skype sessions with aerospace engineers and scientists from the space exploration field. The opportunity opened up when we started our space explorers club. The young man ( Alex Longo) who helped start the club, asked members of the science community if they would Skype with us. Well low and behold they were more than willing to help out.

We had a total of 5 guest speakers this year. Matthew Golombek was our first speaker. His discussion centered around Mars and the next landing site. He explained the criteria behind deciding on a landing site for 2020.  Dr. Golombek was gracious enough to answer questions at the end. His talk was very interesting and students gained a better understanding about the future missions to Mars. Our next speaker was a bit different, he was associated with the National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution. Dr. John Grant works with the Planetary Science Institute and agreed to talk to students. Students were really interested in his job and had many questions about what he did at the museum. Dr. Grant really did an awesome job explaining how he became part of the Mars landing site project. It was especially interesting because Dr. Grant was a geologists, not an engineer. After speaking with Dr. Grant we then spoke to Dr. Jim Rice.  He introduced himself by talking about how he came to love space exploration and decided to go into space exploration field. His talk centered around his work with Spirit and Opportunity. Again a geologist and not an engineer. But the highlight of his talk was the discussion at the end about NASA’s Budget. I knew the budget to NASA had been cut but I didn’t know how by how much. His comparison which is below was amazing.  Thanks to Dr. Rice for giving me permission to post these.






After Dr. Rice we spoke with Dr. Steven Levin from GAVRT. I had meet Dr. Levin a few years back when I attended the Teacher Workshop at GAVRT. I had been sent to the workshop when I was picked for the NASA Explorers PD. Dr. Levin works with the JUNO mission that is on its way to Jupiter. It will be there in July. His presentation was about what they are looking for when they arrive at Jupiter and mission itself.  Our last speaker was from Space X. Convenient since it occurred at the same time  they landed the rocket back on Earth.  Paul Wooster is a Spacecraft GNC Manager at Space Exploration Technologies. His talk centered around going to Mars and what were the future plans of SpaceX.  We had a ton of people at this one. Everyone was interested in knowing what is was like to work for SpaceX . Students asked a ton of questions at the end.

It was an awesome year for speakers and we hope to continue this next year. A couple of things about speakers, you need to be flexible because of their schedules. We did most of our talks after school. Also make sure you can use your internet connection with Skype sometimes school networks will  block Skype. All the talks were well worth it and the most positive experience ever for our students. By showing them the different STEM careers available, maybe they will want to choose one of these career paths.  That is the goal and purpose of our club and having these speakers.


About rippie77

Science Teacher at Cardinal Gibbons High School, Raleigh NC.

Posted on May 18, 2016, in Cardinal Gibbons High School, Earth Science, NASA, NASA explorers school, Space Explorers and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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