STEM NEWS

NASA astronaut visits Owasso schools, inspires students as part of STEM initiative
Owasso Reporter. Art Haddaway. January 31, 2018.

This week, students at Northeast and Ator elementary schools got to hear from a special speaker who was out of this world – literally.
 
Paul S. Lockhart, a retired Air Force colonel and former NASA astronaut, made an appearance at assemblies held in the schools’ gymnasiums on Tuesday afternoon.
 
He visited the schools as part of Flight Night Space Week, put on by the Tulsa Regional STEM Alliance and led by the Space Foundation, that provides space-related educational programming for both students and staff.
 
Lockhart and another NASA astronaut, Lt. Col. Duane “Digger” Carey, are speaking at several elementary and middle schools this week to help promote STEM in the classroom.
 
Throughout his 20-year career at NASA, Lockhart logged more than 5,000 hours in more than 30 different aircraft and the Space Shuttle, including 26 days in space. He also embarked on two space missions, both in 2002, to the International Space Station.
 
On Tuesday, the Texas-native brought his longstanding experience in the cockpit to local students, where he demonstrated the space shuttle’s orbit around the Earth, showed how people live in space and explained what being an astronaut is all about.
 
“There was no shortage of smiles as Col. Lockhart engaged our students with stories ‘from outer space,’” Michele Million, Northeast principal, said. “He told tales of docking on the space station and trying to eat food in zero gravity – can you imagine?!”
 
Jennifer Newton, Ator principal, added, “Our staff loved seeing the students so excited about the astronaut’s visit. Our crossing guard came in the office (Monday) morning and said she overheard the kids walking to school talking about how they couldn’t wait to get (there).”
 
During Lockhart’s visit to Owasso, the students also took part in several hands-on activities, including building and launching their own rockets, and got to meet and interact with educators from the Space Foundation.
 
Northeast and Ator are two of several Owasso school sites that are continuing to incorporate recurring STEM-related presentations and activities into their curriculums, and Lockhart’s visit on Tuesday reinforced that objective.
 
“We believe our school plays an important role in encouraging students to develop higher-level STEM capabilities,” Million said. “Col. Lockhart inspired our students to continue to chase their dreams and maybe one day, they too, can look back on planet Earth from outer space.”
 
Newton added, “It is so important as a principal to expose our students to anything and everything that may impact their future life decisions. (Tuesday) was a perfect opportunity for our students to see that their opportunities are endless.”

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