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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A Space Center Open House Update and A Letter to the Editor

Hello Troops,
In a previous post I suggested a Space Center Open House for November 8th.  The response was so overwhelming it caused me to rethink the event.  The thought of hundreds and hundreds of people touring the simulators for pictures and reminiscing, within a few short evening hours, convinced me to suggest another option to our administrators.  The human traffic jams in the school's halls and in the ships would make a junior high school hallway between class periods, look like a walk through the park.  I will suggest a five hour Saturday open house sometime in November.  People will be able to come and go at their leisure, keeping the crowds manageable.  More information on a Space Center Open House will be posted once permissions are given. 
The following is portion of a letter to the editor of the Salt Lake Tribune concerning the article on the closure of the Christa McAuliffe Space Education Center which ran in the paper last week.  Many letters and emails similar to this are coming in from people from all over the country.  People are sharing their experiences from the Space Center, hoping to show how important this program was to them, and hoping it will continue far into the future.    
"The closing of The Christa McAuliffe Space Education Center is a tragedy.....

While the space center is closed, dreams are being crushed, because they are not being allowed to form.

The McAuliffe center altered the course of my life. Because of it, I graduated from Harvard with degrees in astrophysics and Earth and planetary sciences. I then designed and built scientific instruments that went to the South Pole to study the beginning of the universe.

I am now preparing for doctoral work that will entail researching Europa, a moon of Jupiter that I first learned about 12 years ago on my first visit to the center. None of that would be true if it had been "temporarily" closed back when I was 10.

The space center helped me turn my dreams into reality, and mine is just one of thousands of stories......."

Kristi Bradford - Salt Lake Tribune Editorial

New York City

This reminded me of an article I read in Scientific America in 1997.  The article discussed a study at Purdue University first published in 1993. Engineering students at Purdue were asked what motivated them to go into engineering.  The responses surprised the study's authors.  The number one reason given was Scotty, the Starship Enterprise's Chief Engineer.  I've quoted that study often when explaining to people how science fiction and science go hand in hand. 
I am another example.  My love for science and space sprang from my love of science fiction. Such is the power of science fiction when used as a motivational tool in educationThe Space Center understands this connection better than any organization. Carl Sagen, a renowned American astronomer, said it best in this short video presentation 

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