Students can reach for the stars

(From The Pasadena Citizen- March 31, 2004)
By MARCUS TANTILLO
Reporter

Living near Johnson Space Center and Ellington Field does not mean that much to adults unless they have jobs there, but area students have a great opportunity to set goals that might one day take them to the stars.

Since I have been living in Pasadena, about four months, I have covered two events that, had I had the opportunity to attend as a student, might have given me greater aspirations as an adult.

Tuesday, I had the opportunity to see students asking members of the crew on the International Space Station questions about their life in space.

As a child I never really gave NASA much thought. I guess I thought it was beyond my grasp. Yet during my assignment Tuesday I was able to talk to students who not only dream of being a part of NASA but see it as a viable goal they can obtain.

Although I love my job and my status in life, I can only wonder what might have happened, had I had the same opportunities.

The students who participated in the program are at the intermediate level. I remember visiting the planetarium in junior high school, and I still like to try to identify the constellations.

Another program that Pasadena students participate in that may have fueled my aspirations as a child is the Texas Starbase program. In the program students learn about science as it applies to Ellington Field.

The students are taught about the theory of flight.

During the program the students had the opportunity to build model rockets and see how they flew at Ellington Field.

As a child I had a model rocket, and my family went out to a field and launched it. It was fun but I never put the connection together that one day I could be designing rockets taking men into outer space. During an interview I talked to a student in the fifth grade who has already set her goals to work at NASA.

In fifth grade I don't believe I had any goals other than making sure I passed all my classes each six weeks.

I do not regret my childhood but it just amazes me how much more focused children are today about their future. As a child I remember a class where we were supposed to figure out how old we would be in the year 2000.

At the time and until about 15 years ago I really never thought I would make it to 31. That year has come and gone, and I am finally learning of all the opportunities we really have in life.

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