Wednesday, March 27, 2013

NASA Month: NASA in the Classroom

All this month, I'm NASA! This means every weekday in March will feature a new post about NASA, and I'm hosting a giant giveaway in order to encourage people to spread the NASA love. For more information on the giveaway, check out this post.

Today we have a special guest post by author and fellow League member Peggy Eddleman! She's posting about NASA in film.


NASA in the Classroom

by Peggy Eddleman

NASA was hugely important to me growing up. Watching lift-offs on our classroom TVs, and hearing my teachers talk excitedly about space and everything NASA was accomplishing gave me a sense of wonder that still means a lot to me. It made me dream and imagine and have a thirst to discover that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. I would hate to be without it.

But somehow when my kids were younger, they were without it. That sense of wonder that came from NASA was missing, and it made me so sad. Space shuttle lift-offs weren’t broadcasted in their classrooms, and their teachers didn’t talk about it with the same kind of excitement. But I loved that they went to the school they did, because it is home to the Christa McAuliffe Space Education Center where kids and teenagers come from all around to not only learn about space, but to watch planetarium shows and run spaceship simulators. I knew that by the time they were in fourth grade and for many years after, its director would instill in them that sense of wonder and the love of NASA.

I asked the director, Victor Williamson, why it’s so important to have a love of space and of science fiction.

My interest in space didn’t begin in the classroom, nor from watching the Apollo missions to the moon. My interest in space sprang from the original Star Trek series I watched religiously as a child. Every week, I journeyed into the depths of space with the brave crew of the Enterprise. I was there when they fought heroic battles of survival. I was there when they encountered strange new alien life forms. I was with them when they ventured where no man had gone before.

This prophetic series was the catalyst for an emotional reaction that motivated me to learn more. These emotions caused me to look for answers to the age old philosophical questions of who we are, where did we come from and where are we going. I was on a quest to learn about and explore space on my own through books, magazines and every space television show I could find on PBS.

Science Fiction caused me ask the right questions. Science has helped me look for the answers. That is why I teach space science within a framework of science fiction. This curriculum mind meld of fantasy and reality creates an emotional wonder in children. It opens their young minds to the endless possibilities of what lies out there. It reminds them that the universe is everywhere, and perhaps one reason we are here is to help the universe understand itself.

There are few subjects that cause students to pause and wonder like space. Watching their eyes and mouths open wide when they comprehend the vast distances to the stars, or the power of a black hole, or the physics of gravity, or the fusion of heavy elements in a star’s furnace, is an extra paycheck for a teacher. It is in those “Ah Ha!” moments. I see in my student’s faces a desire to embark on their own personal voyage of discovery in search of something incredible, just waiting to be known.

Victor Williamson The Christa McAuliffe Space Education Center

I love that he teaches space science within the framework of science fiction. NASA and science fiction will forever be linked. And because of that, it opens readers’ minds to the endless possibilities that are out there.


Peggy Eddleman’s debut, SKY JUMPERS (Random House Children’s Books), comes out in September 2013, with book two releasing in September 2014. You can find Peggy online onFacebookTwitter, and on her personal blog. Besides writing, she enjoys playing laser tag with her family, doing cartwheels in long hallways, trying new restaurants, and occasionally painting murals on walls. She lives at the foot of the Wasatch Mountains in Utah with her husband and their three children.


This post is a part of the month-long celebration of NASA I'm hosting on my blog. In order to encourage people to celebrate NASA, I'm also hosting a giveaway!

One grand prize winner will receive all the books in the recent Breathless Reads tour, as well as ARCs of two anthologies and a signed Breathless Reads poster:

As well as swag from NASA, courtesy of Kate @ Ex Libris:

To celebrate NASA creatively: you could blog about why you like NASA, you could reach out to an astronaut for an interview, you could make space fan art, you could sing a song about NASA, you do a vlog, you make a list of all the ways NASA rocks...any of this counts! Just celebrate NASA in some awesome way, post it online, and include the link in the Rafflecopter. I even set that part of the entry open for multiple entries, so you could blog and vlog and Facebook and tumblr and Pinterest about NASA and they all count. The only requirements: post a link back to this contest, and put the full URL of the site in the Rafflecopter. Full details here.

To enter: be sure to read the full rules and terms of the contest here. Then fill out the Rafflecopter below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

1 comment:

Donna K. Weaver said...

Wonderful article. My son loved to visit the Space Center when he was younger. I've missed that last many years when SciFi was kind of on the outs and loved it when Beth's book "Across the Universe" showed there was still an audience out there and SciFi might be be making a comeback. Think of how Heinlein and his peers forecast so much of the future. They were off on some things but right on with others. (I'm still waiting for a moon base).