Image above: Former astronaut John Herrington visits with students at Vintage Magnet School, North Hills, Calif. NASA Photo by Gus Schalkham
NASA welcomed Vintage Magnet School, North Hills, Calif., as a 2007 NASA Explorer School partner on Wednesday, Nov. 7. Former astronaut John Herrington joined in the festivities and shared his experience on space shuttle flight STS-113 with students and family members.
Herrington told the students that he first dreamed of going to the moon while sitting in a cardboard box when he was eight years old. He added that someone in the audience may travel to Mars.
He credits two mentors with steering him down the path leading to his dream. An employer encouraged Herrington, a college dropout, to go back to school and study engineering. He did so and while tutoring a former Naval officer in mathematics was encouraged to join the Navy. Herrington became a Naval aviator, test pilot and eventually an astronaut. He encouraged the students to listen to their parents, teachers and others in their lives.
He remembered his shuttle flight as one of his most satisfying accomplishments. When asked by a young Vintage student named Thomas what was most exciting thing to do in the space shuttle, Herrington replied a spacewalk. He completed three during the STS-113 mission to the International Space Station.
The students' enthusiasm did not wane when Herrington responded 20 to 25 years when asked how many years of training did he have to become an astronaut. He explained that this included all schooling from first grade on.
"Does the food go up your digestive system in space?" asked fifth-grader Seraina Spence. Herrington explained that food in an astronaut's digestive system does start to float, thus many who go into space feel sick.
Vintage teacher's sponsored an space-themed art and writing contest and two third graders read their winning entries during the NASA evening community event.
Following Herrington's evening presentation, classrooms were opened and students and their families were invited to try their hand at a number of aeronautical activities from building a NASA glider to flying an X-plane simulator.
Vintage Magnet School will receive educational support from NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center located on Edwards Air Force Base.
NASA Dryden Flight Research Center