“How can I work for NASA? »
This is a question that many students ask themselves when they first discover the possibility of working in space.
Yet this time the question was not posed to a teacher, but to two Nasa speakers who had played key roles in the organization’s Mars mission and were now speaking to our students via the magic of video conferencing. – the second time they had done so in a few months.
Of course, developing a connection with two NASA personnel didn’t out of nowhere, but was the culmination of many connections made over the past two years – and it underscores how schools can leverage educational networks to increase student opportunities.
It started when I first heard from the two NASA experts in question… Richard Davies and Bob Collom – speak at the Climate Action Day conference on November 5, 2021, which our school also attended.
It was a great event and seeing Rick and Bob talking, their engagement with the kids and their humble, human nature gave me confidence to reach out to them – just sending a message on Twitter.
I asked if they had the time and the will to talk to students from Moldova as part of our Founders Lecture Series.
This series is organized for the 3rd year at Heritage International School, and since the beginning of the pandemic, we organize all the lectures online, due to the Covid measures in place.
But having them online also means that we can expand them globally for guest speakers and invite other schools in Moldova to participate, so that students across the country can benefit from these opportunities – all the more that these are excellent career guidance sessions for young people.
Rick and Bob have kindly accepted the invitation to speak in January 2022.
A very warm welcome
Needless to say, the Nasa session was the longest Founders’ Conference session in three years, with the Google Meet room filled with hundreds of teachers and students listening in and asking questions.
We also promoted the event on social media, and soon after we were contacted by the British Council, who wanted details of the event and asked if it was possible to invite NASA experts to inspire the British Council Schools Ambassadors Conference.
Nasa agreed, but they wanted to invite a few students to join as well, to keep the same format as the Founders’ Conferences – which of course we were only too happy to accept. I selected several students who were unable to attend the Founders Conference session to participate in the event.
It was again a great event with a lot of student engagement, and Rick and Bob did a great job of showing the connection between what Nasa does and the need for people with a skill set – not only around Stem but also arts, humanities and languages.
You could see our students connecting to this and realizing how what they were learning could lead to such roles in the future.
Emphasis was also placed on the importance of sustainability, the preservation of our planet, global citizenship and the fact that space is bigger than any nation and the potential next chapter in the story of humanity.
Beyond inspiring the students, the event also helped create a bond between NASA and the British Council, which has now established a platform for further work to be done in collaboration, so that schools from the UK may have similar experiences in their approach to learning from and with NASA experts.
Let’s look at the stars
Of course, schools have always been good at creating these kinds of connections with guest speakers and large organizations. But the pandemic has shrunk our worlds somewhat, with many travel, event, and travel opportunities curtailed.
But thanks to digital platforms, engagement with the sector, and a willingness to simply ask people “Could you chat with our students?”, it’s clear that fantastic opportunities for collaboration can be created – and an eye-opener. students about their future with links to what they are studying now.
Certainly for us as an international school, the commitment we’ve seen in our students from all nations to the work of Nasa and what Rick and Bob were able to discuss highlights that space still retains that mix of wonder, mystery and excitement that never fails. to capture the imagination.
Perhaps the ambition of schools in the 2020s should not only be international education, but also add an interstellar educational dimension.
Tatiana Popa is a Professor of English and Global Perspectives and Head of Global Education at Heritage International School in Moldova