During a warp speed visit of Alaska, NASA's associate administrator for education Dr. Adena Loston told civic groups and radio audiences that NASA's mission now includes developing a pipeline for education and a workforce for children who will someday become workers in space exploration and travel.
"We are not competing with the Department of Education, we are collaborating with them, and they have welcomed us to the table. We are a federal agency that has education written into our mission statement," Loston told numerous gatherings and receptions during her three-day itinerary.
The educational pipeline includes the 50 some Challenger Learning Centers located across the lower-48 and Alaska. Loston said her vision for education had changed from when she was a child growing up in Mississippi, but that today she hoped for a society in the future that would be scientifically literate with an understanding of the universe and that every child would have access to the learning pillars that would help them establish a clear road map for achieving their career goals. Loston also said that it would take more than the typical institutionalized facility to meet that goal but would take many different vehicles such as the Challenger Learning Center and that essential to the success of all learning vehicles, formal or informal, is loving caregiver, caring educator, or mentor to be involved in every child's learning processes.
Adena Loston, NASA Associate Administrator for Education, presents Challenger Learning Center Board President Emma Walton and Executive Director Sharon Gherman with a model of NASA's Starship 2040 traveling exhibit at the Challenger Center in Kenai.
Loston's visit coincided with the arrival of NASA's Starship 2040, a traveling space transportation exhibit designed to give visitors a taste of what space travel may be like 37 years from now. "The purpose of the exhibit is to inspire the next generation of explorers and to get students excited about math, technology, and science," said Brandon Boone, NASA's media relation's specialist who has taken the exhibit to every state in the Union except Hawaii.
Accompanying Boone was a Dimond High School graduate, Tiffanie Williams, who is now a NASA aerospace engineer and enjoys encouraging the next generation to pursue a career in math and science, "I let Alaskans know that it is absolutely possible for them to get down there, I'm a walking talking example that they can make it and if they believe in it and believe in themselves and set their mind to it they can absolutely do it," said Williams. Describing the best part of working for NASA, Williams added, "The passion! The passion at NASA is unlike anything I've ever experienced. It's something everybody loves to do and while it's a lot of hard work, it's fire and smoke on the engines and it's just a lot of fun and an extremely rewarding career." Information on NASA opportunities is available at www.spaceflight.nasa.gov.
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