Kids learn that NASA isn't just for astronauts

Friday, June 21, 2019
NASA Solar System Ambassador Katherine Auld tells her audience about missions to Mars during her presentation on Monday, June 10, at the Eureka Springs Carnegie Public Library.
Billy Stidham / Carroll County News

By Billy Stidham

Solar System Ambassador Katherine Auld tells kids about all the opportunities NASA has to offer.

Auld came to the Eureka Springs Carnegie Public Library on Monday, June 10, to talk about every mission to Mars past and present, but she had a secret agenda to get kids hooked on math and science.

“Space is our hook,” Auld said. “Once you get someone to say ‘oh cool, space!’ then you get to say here’s the chemistry, the physics, engineering and art behind it all.”

As a Solar System Ambassador, Auld communicates with NASA about once a month and NASA tells her about one of its missions.

“They tell me what they’re doing and why— all the cool stuff. My job is to come to libraries and share with everybody. I’m a sort of reporter for science— specifically for NASA. They provide me the information and then I get to go out and share it,” she said.

“We need for young people to be excited by science and engineering,” Auld said. “Not just for space, but for everyday life. There are so many issues that we need to solve as a country. If getting someone into space lights a fire in them for some facet in the sciences and they make a career out of it, then I’ve been successful.

“I want to get them to realize that science and math are not scary; they’re fun,” Auld said. “Math is just the language we use to explain the science.”

You don’t have to be an astronaut or a scientist to be involved with the sciences or even to work for an institution like NASA.

“Every mission has public relations guys and artists. They have the scientists and the astronauts, too, but they have all those other things you can do in NASA,” Auld said. “There are lots of things NASA needs.”

Auld may have been successful in her plot to intrigue young minds. One visitor, 8-year-old Draven, was not shy. He asked how far we are from sending a manned mission to Mars. He also said his favorite part was, “learning about the atmosphere.”

Library director Loretta Crenshaw said the library was successful in its attempt to use science to get kids interested in reading.

“Each child grabbed two to three books each,” Crenshaw said.

“I was impressed with [the event]. There were some very little kids here but I think the older ones got a lot out of it and I think the adults really enjoyed it, too,” Crenshaw said.

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