Top High School Students Treated to Day at Kennedy
Graduating top seniors from Brevard County high schools toured Kennedy Space Center and heard about NASA's past, present and future during the first Brevard Top Scholars Day, May 11.
Kennedy's Office of Education coordinated the event that featured a tour of Launch Complex 39, including the Vehicle Assembly Building and viewing of space shuttle Atlantis in its orbiter processing facility.
Chief of the Education Programs Division Hortense Diggs welcomed the students to the center and congratulated them on their achievements.
"Our nation needs scientists and engineers," Diggs said. "I hope each of you will consider pursuing a career in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, fields of study because it is these occupations that will matter most in the 21st century."
Kelvin Manning, Kennedy associate director, officially welcomed the students to the center.
"In this country we recognize the athletes and the entertainers, and academics are kind of pushed off to the side," Manning said. "But I'd like to congratulate you on your achievements and emphasize that STEM fields are very important for all of us to keep moving forward as a nation.
"We need to focus more on the technical fields, and that's what we do here at NASA," Manning said.
Russell Romanella, director of Kennedy's Safety and Mission Assurance gave a presentation on NASA's past, present and future in space exploration.
During lunch at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, the students heard from Applied Physics Lab Branch Chief Stan Starr from the Engineering Directorate.
Starr talked about the center's labs and some space shuttle-related problems that were solved.
Chris from Heritage High School in Palm Bay said the tour and presentation were very informative.
"We got to experience things that even some Kennedy employees have not had the opportunity to do. I'm glad to have had the opportunity," Chris said. He plans to pursue a degree in electrical engineering from the Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne.
Eau Gallie High School student Jessica said she really liked the day's experience.
"I really liked Russell's presentation," Jessica said. She may pursue a career in medicine.
Nicholas, a senior from Space Coast High School in Port St. John, is planning to pursue a degree in civil engineering from Florida Tech.
"The tour was one of my favorites," Nicholas said. "I've always had an interest in the space program, but now it interests me even more."
At the end of the day, each student received a certificate acknowledging his or her attendance at the event.
NASA's John F. Kennedy Space Center