NASA's Associate Administrator for Education and former astronaut Leland Melvin takes time to speak individually to students, answering their questions and signing autographs. Image Credit: NASAFrom May 25-28, 2011, Tennessee played host to some of the most imaginative students in the world today. Destination ImagiNation is a nonprofit organization that provides educational programs for students to learn and experience creativity, teamwork and problem solving.
Students engage in hands-on activities at NASA's education booths. Image Credit: NASAcould touch an actual moon rock or take part in hands-on educational activities. Kelle Pido of NASA's Johnson Space Center was excited to meet the students and hoped they would get a chance to touch the moon rock. That way, she knew that "every time you look up and see the moon, you can tell your friends, 'I touched that!'" The students also engaged in hands-on activities from NASA's Suited for Spacewalking educator guide. Donning gloves, students had to work on seemingly simple tasks such as buttoning and tying items, or zipping up a zipper. Wearing thick gloves makes these tasks much more difficult to complete and gives the visitor a sense of what an astronaut experiences when working in a spacesuit and having to manipulate small objects.
Leland Melvin shares his personal and professional ups and down with the graduating class and encourages them to work hard to fulfill their goals. Image Credit: NASAAt the end of the finals competition, Melvin was the keynote speaker for the graduation ceremony. He applauded the students for their efforts and encouraged them to continue their own pursuit of excellence in fields including science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM. He spoke about the Columbia tragedy. He stressed how important it is to continue the crew's legacy and honor their memories through exploration, education and inspiring the next generation of explorers. Melvin, whose parents are both educators, is a passionate advocate for education and knows the important role that a program like Destination ImagiNation can play in students' academic careers. He reiterated NASA's commitment to building the technical workforce of tomorrow and challenged them to reach higher and be a part of that exciting future.