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09/16/2004
Day in the Park 2004

Frank L. Culbertson Jr. (Captain, USN, Ret., Former NASA Astronaut) The NASA Independent Verification and Validation (IV&V) Facility, in collaboration with the West Virginia High Technology Consortium Foundation, held an educational event called "Day in The Park 2004" at the I-79 Technology Park in Fairmont, WV, on September 21, 2004. "Day in The Park 2004" encouraged students to pursue careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

Image right: Frank L. Culbertson Jr. (Captain, USN, Ret., Former NASA Astronaut) recounts his experiences in space for the students participating in Day in the Park 2004. Mr. Culbertson flew on STS-38 Atlantis (1990), STS-51 Discovery (1993), and STS-105 (2001) that docked with the International Space Station, where he lived and worked for 129 days.

At this event approximately 850 seventh graders from West Virginia (Monongalia, Marion, Harrison, Lewis, Doddridge, and McDowell Counties) participated in hands-on activities and visited with representatives of various technical fields. A special invitation was extended to Mount View Middle School from McDowell County, which was chosen as the first West Virginia NASA Explorer School (NES). Teachers from this rural school said the event would give their students hope that they can go places in life. Students from Mount View Middle School traveled a total of eight hours to participate in "Day in the Park 2004".

The day kicked-off with Frank L. Culbertson Jr. (Captain, USN, Ret.), a former NASA Astronaut. Mr. Culbertson flew on STS-38 Atlantis (1990), STS-51 Discovery (1993), and STS-105 (2001) that docked with the International Space Station, where he lived and worked for 129 days. Mr. Culbertson was the only American not on Earth on September 11, 2001. At the time, he was an Expedition 3 crew member on board the International Space Station and was witness to the damage done to the World Trade Center towers in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. 230 miles below.

Also featured at "Day in the Park 2004" was Coalwood, West Virginia, native Roy Lee Cooke, a founding member of the Big Creek Missile Agency and one of author Homer Hickam's original "Rocket Boys". He shared his experiences growing up in West Virginia, and encouraged the students to stay in school and reach for their dreams. Louis Carfagno, a Space Suit Engineer and former pilot, demonstrated how a space suit was designed and fitted for astronaut training and space flight. He also encouraged students to set goals and work diligently to achieve them by taking advantage of all educational opportunities.

The students explored science and technology with hands-on activities at the West Liberty State College SMART-Center exhibits, while local businesses provided Aeronautics, model rocketry, and satellite research to complete this spectacular day.