NASA Dryden research pilot Jim Smolka and operations engineer Leslie Molzahn demonstrate the partial pressure suits they wear when flying high-performance aircraft. (NASA Photo / Tom Tschida) More than 250 eighth grade students from eight schools experienced hands-on science and engineering during the Bohn-Meyer Math and Science Odyssey Feb. 6 at Antelope Valley College in Lancaster, Calif.
Under the theme "Soaring to New Heights," students explored controlled flight with an unpowered glider they designed and built, and spoke by radio with NASA Dryden Flight Research Center test pilot Jim Smolka and flight test operations engineer Leslie Molzahn who were flying in an F-18 aircraft nearby. After landing, Smolka and Molzahn drove to the college where they answered students' questions about flying test missions and their careers with NASA.
Students also participated in three of 18 workshops in the fields of engineering, meteorology, physics, chemistry and mathematics.
The Math and Science Odyssey is held annually to encourage students to continue their studies in math, science and technology and promote career interest in those fields. It is named for the late Marta Bohn-Meyer, former chief engineer at NASA Dryden, who was a staunch supporter of and regular participant in the event prior to her untimely death in 2005.
Bob Meyer, program manager of NASA's Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, explained highlights of NASA's SOFIA program to middle school students attending the Math and Science Odyssey. (NASA Photo / Tom Tschida) During introductory comments, Bohn-Meyer's husband, Bob Meyer, NASA's program manager of the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, challenged students to study hard, pursue their passions and set high goals, noting that a wide variety of career opportunities await them.
"I would encourage all of you to pursue a career in math and science because I think math and science are really the keys to understanding the world around us," said Meyer. "It takes a lot of people behind the scenes that make a project work. It addition to the flight crew, it takes technicians, it takes schedulers, it takes accountants, it takes procurement people, it takes public affairs and many more. So even if math and science aren't your thing, you can be successful by yourself or as part of a team."
In addition to NASA Dryden, primary sponsors of the Math and Science Odyssey included Antelope Valley College, the AERO Institute, the Air Force Flight Test Center, the Air Force Research Laboratory and several local businesses and community organizations.
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