I’m sorry that it’s taken me a week to write this blog about Kentucky Mission Discovery but it’s just been so insanely busy! (Yeah, I know, you’re all saying “But she always says that!” And you’re right – I do!)
I feel so fortunate that last summer I happened to meet Twyman from Space Tango & Kentucky Space at the ISS Research & Development Conference. Robbie from CASIS had been trying to connect the 2 of us but the conference was the first time I actually got to meet Twyman & Kris. Really, that conference in Chicago is where Mission Discovery Kentucky really began.
I have to tell you, Twyman and Kris were a great preview of the wonderful folks I would meet as a result of this work with Kentucky! So many amazing folks that I feel so lucky to now call colleagues and friends.
The students – well, the students were AMAZING! Such great questions, thought provoking ideas and incredibly inquisitive natures. From the instant we began they were engaged and interested. Such creativity was shown with their Team Names and Mission Patches (seriously- I’m in awe of the talent!) and you could really see the wheels spinning every time Astronaut Hoot Gibson was talking about his missions in space the first weekend. Honestly I think we could have filled the whole first 2 days with just Q&A for Hoot!!!
They left the first weekend all buzzing about their experiment ideas and I couldn’t wait to get back to Kentucky in 5 days to hear all about them!
The second weekend we had the incredibly talented Tara Ruttley Join us. She is an Associate ISS Program Scientist and was there to help answer all science related questions. Admittedly, the kids even stumped her from time to time because they were asking such good questions!
Like with spaceflight, you sometimes run into some unexpected issues and we had that too! (Obviously given that we’d had to change dates completely due to Mother Nature!) Wheels wasn’t able to make it the second weekend as planned due to an emergency (don’t worry he’s okay) but luckily I had 2 astronaut who were AMAZING and stepped up to the plate to help! Clay was kind enough to Skype in and chat with the students for about 40 minutes on Saturday. He kept them laughing but always had great motivation messages and good space information interspersed with his fun. They LOVED him! You can see a snippet of his closing motivation if you check out the Higher Orbits Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/higherorbits (By the way – did you know he has a book out on pre-order? Check it out here.)
Then on Sunday Frank Culbertson was gracious enough to speak to the students and his talk “Aviate, Navigate, Communicate” was spot on!
He also signed up for the difficult task of being a judge for the experiments. The stakes were high! The winning team will have their experiment launched into space.
All of the experiment ideas were AMAZING and it was very difficult to choose a winner… but after deliberation we were happy to announce the winners…
I am certain you’ll be hearing much more about them and from them in the months to come.
It was such an AMAZING experience and I have so many AMAZING new friends and colleagues as a result of this. I’m excited to announce that Higher Orbits will be bringing another space inspired program to Kentucky Science Center January 16-18, 2016. So stay tuned for more details!