NASA and Tynker Mission Patch Design Challenge: The Expert Sessions

NASA and Tynker Mission Patch Design Challenge: The Expert Sessions

NASA and Tynker Mission Patch Design Challenge: The Expert Sessions

Read our previous blog post to learn more about the five winners of the Design a Mission Patch Challenge!

This week, the five winners of the Forward to the Moon Mission Patch Design Challenge and their classrooms spoke with experts from NASA! Each session was full of excellent questions from students and great answers from the experts. Read on to learn more about each session.

Neal Apte and friends speak with Dr. Katie Gallagher Boggs and William Cirillo
Barron Park Elementary in Palo Alto, California, USA

Winner Neal Apte and his classroom at Barron Elementary had the chance to speak with two NASA experts! Dr. Katie Gallagher-Boggs is Systems and Technology Demonstration Manager for ISS Division of the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters. William (Bill) Cirillo is an Aerospace Engineer at NASA Langley Research Center. To start off, Katie and Bill gave an overview of their work at NASA. Several students asked questions, all of which were insightful and full of curiosity. Their questions ranged from what space travel is like to specific questions about upcoming missions. Some of them even had notepads at hand with questions prepared!

Bill and Katie really admired Neal’s project and made reference to it throughout their presentation, as well as during the Q&A session. They gave a detailed explanation of the stages for space travel to Mars. NASA experts told the classroom that the Moon will be a parking spot for supplies, so multiple missions to the Moon must take place before travel to Mars can begin.

After the conversation, Neal spoke to his fellow students about his failures and successes as a programmer. He explained that the project he created didn’t work on the first try – his second attempt was his submission and his winning project!

Paxton Summers and friends speak with Kevin Metrocavage
Friends School, Baltimore, Maryland, USA

Winner Paxton Summers and his peers at Friends School of Baltimore had the opportunity to speak with NASA expert Kevin Metrocavage, International Space Station Operations Manager in the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate at NASA. Kevin began by sharing a bit about his career journey. He emphasized and encouraged the students to be intellectually curious.

Kevin discussed how NASA is applying the lessons learned on the ISS to planning the first lunar landing in the 21st century! When explaining Artemis Phase 1, the NASA plan for lunar landing, he said Paxton’s project “says it all” when it comes to how to get to the Moon.

Paxton and his peers asked a lot of great questions! They were particularly curious about the logistics of space travel, such as how many people travel in each spaceship, where else NASA plans to explore, and if there is internet access on the space station.

Ishhaq Ziyam and friends speak with Dr. Jitendra Joshi
Wycherley International School, Colombo, Sri Lanka

Winner Ishhaq Ziyam and his peers at Wycherley International School were able to speak with Dr. Jitendra Joshi, Integration Lead for Advanced Exploration Systems at NASA. The room was full of students who listened carefully and asked fantastic questions. Dr. Joshi opened the NASA expert session by sharing his background and emphasizing how hard work changed his life. He then went on to discuss his work at NASA.

Dr. Joshi told students that his job is to develop technologies to keep astronauts alive and healthy in space while optimizing supply use. This includes recycling urine and sweat because it’s tough to get supplies into outer space.

He encouraged students to appreciate their parents and teachers, explaining that they are fortunate to have so many adults in their lives to encourage them to pursue coding and other interests.

Ishhaq was curious to learn more about life in space! He asked questions about what astronauts eat while they’re on board a spaceship and other questions about what life as an astronaut looks like.

Madison Morgan and friends speak with Dr. Katie Gallagher-Boggs and Christie Cox
Sacajawea Junior High School, Lewiston, Idaho, USA

Winner Madison Morgan and her fellow 8th graders at Sacajawea Junior High School had the opportunity to speak with two NASA experts, Dr. Katie Gallagher-Boggs and Christie Cox, Utilization and Commercial Use Manager in the ISS Division in the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters.

They gave a great presentation about NASA, the International Space Station, and NASA’s mission to the Moon. Students asked questions about communication and the trajectory of a NASA career! The experts emphasized that you don’t have to be an engineer or a scientist to work at NASA, and advised that students learn about themselves to choose the career best suited to their strengths and affinities.

Christie and Katie opened by highlighting the fact that this group of students has never lived during a time when humans weren’t living in space, because humans have been in space continuously since 2000. Christie and Katie then shared fun facts about the International Space Station! For example, the ISS has 8 miles of wire and tends to stay about 220 miles above the Earth. They touched on the Artemis mission, NASA’s mission to travel to the Moon, and commented on Madison’s amazing project.

Teng Wei Rui and friends speak with Dr. Jitendra Joshi
Realfun Learning Centre, Miri, Sarawak, Malaysia

Winner Teng Wei Rui and dozens of his fellow young programmers at Realfun Learning Centre had the opportunity to speak with NASA expert Dr. Jitendra Joshi, Integration Lead for Advanced Exploration Systems at NASA. Wei Rui’s instructor Teo Yuang Teck estimated that there were 50-60 students in attendance for the session, several of whom eagerly asked very thoughtful questions!

Dr. Joshi surprised students by telling them that Earth is a spaceship and that we all live in space! He told students that NASA tries to copy functions of Earth on a smaller scale when it designs spacecraft. He also spoke to other elements of planning space travel, like the idea of waste recycling and the fact that it costs $25,000 USD to send one kilogram of anything into space.

He emphasized to students that in order to realize your dreams, you don’t have to be the smartest student in the room, but you do have to be hard-working. He shared a bit about his background growing up in a small village in India and told students, “You can be anything with hard work.”

One student came forward and asked about the habitability of Mars, and another asked about terraforming the Moon and Mars. In his question, Wei Rui told Dr. Joshi that he wants to become an astronaut and asked for personal advice. Dr. Joshi said that it’s crucial for Wei Rui to find things that he likes, pursue them with a passion, and work hard.

What’s Next?

Keep looking out for more Moon2Mars challenges from NASA and Tynker, to be released in September and October 2019! In the meantime, check out other Tynker and NASA space-themed resources!

Did you miss our winner’s announcement last week? Read our previous blog post to learn more about the five winners of the Design a Mission Patch Challenge!

Tynker enables children to learn computer programming in a fun and imaginative way. More than 60 million kids worldwide have started learning to code using Tynker.

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