The Beating the Odds Foundation partnered with NASA for its third annual event Friday at NASA Headquarters in Washington, DC. This educational partnership between Beating the Odds Foundation and NASA presents students with an experience that allows them to see that what they are learning in school shapes their success in school, life, and a career.
Beating the Odds Foundation’s Quarterbacks of Life® Student Success & Leadership Program contains an educational activity that focuses on a current NASA project. This year, the activity focused on the Twins Study. Members of the Quarterbacks of Life® Student Leadership Team worked year-long on researching the biological changes between Scott and Mark Kelly as they functioned in two very different environments (space & earth). While the project focused on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math education (STEM), the cornerstone of the project was based on the Quarterbacks of Life® Student Success & Leadership Program’s Stepping Stones to Success – Dreams & Goals, Self-Awareness & Resource Review, Team Support, Decide & Plan, and Positive Mental Attitude.
220 middle/ high school students, plus teachers and administrators, from eleven school districts representing six counties in Pennsylvania were in attendance for the event. These students serve on their school’s Quarterbacks of Life® Student Leadership Team. Participating school districts were Altoona Area School District, Bellwood-Antis School District, Carmichaels Area School District, Central Greene School District, Frazier School District, Hollidaysburg Area School District, Laurel Highlands School District, Southeastern Greene School District, The School District of Philadelphia, Washington School District, and West Greene School District. Beating the Odds Foundation and NASA joined together to offer this educational and inspirational experience not only for the students in attendance, but all students across Pennsylvania via a Live Broadcast.
During Friday’s event students met and asked questions to Dr. John Charles, Associate Manager for International Science, NASA Human Research Program, Johnson Space Center. Dr. Charles has spent a career dedicated to realizing the potential of space exploration and helping people travel in space safely.
Dr. Charles spoke to the students about the future of NASA, where it is and where it is going to take us. He specifically spoke about the Twins Study, keeping astronauts safe during their space flight, and what happens to the human body in space flight so they can prepare the astronauts for success in preparation for trips to Mars.
The students also listened to Dr. Shawn Domagal-Goldman, who discussed NASA’s search for life in the Universe. Dr. Domagal-Goldman is a Research Space Scientist with NASA at the Goddard Space Flight Center. He challenged the students to prove that some of the planets have life. He told the students “whether you are sending humans to Mars or looking for life on another world, you need quarterbacks leading huge diverse teams with different capabilities to be successful. He told the students he received a D in earth history in college and ended up writing a Ph.D. and a lot of papers on earth history after that. If you received a bad grade, it doesn’t mean you can’t be a scientist, continue to persevere. Keep your head in the books. Find your niche. Even if you aren’t good at science but love this stuff, we need budget managers, we need engineers, we need every kind of discipline there is within the STEM field.”
A special video message from NASA Administrator, Charles Bolden, was delivered to the students at the beginning of the day’s events. The message surrounding the day was to work hard, study hard, and don’t be afraid of failure. While this special project/ event focuses on STEM, one of the most beneficial learning experiences to students in this program is demonstrating to them that the Stepping Stones to Success are fundamental in any aspect of life or career, be it an engineer or professional football player.
After the live broadcast from NASA Headquarters, students traveled to NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD where they were taken on a VIP tour of the facilities, including seeing the Science on a Sphere presentation, the James Webb Space Telescope, the High Bay clean room (largest clean room in the world), a thermal vacuum chamber, the Scientific Visualization Studio, and Goddard’s TV studio and control room.
This was made possible in part by Walmart Foundation, Chevron, and FirstEnergy Foundation.