Educator Features

Making a Dream Come True
A young girl is dressed as an astronaut
Ever since she was 5 years old, Georgianna has had a goal. She wants to fly into space as an astronaut. She hopes to go to the moon and Mars and bring back some rocks and other souvenirs. Her interest has been so strong that she's dressed up as an astronaut for Halloween, and has written a poem that she gave as a gift to an astronaut.

Image to left: For Halloween one year, Georgianna dressed as an astronaut -- of course! Credit: Lou Ann Davis

Georgianna is 10 years old now and lives in New York. As part of her after-school activities, she's involved in the Boys and Girls Club. She participated in a weekly science program supported by NASA and the American Museum of Natural History. For the last two school years, she and 20 of her fellow club members have been examining images of Mars for evidence of water, debating the possibility of life beyond Earth, and learning about the sun and its importance to Earth.

Because of her enthusiastic participation in that program, Georgianna was invited to a special event at American Museum of Natural History this summer. The plan was for Georgianna to have an opportunity to meet several NASA astronauts who were visiting as part of a promotional tour. Georgianna was able to speak with Eileen Collins, Charles Camarda and Steve Robinson.
Georgianna standing next to astronaut Steve Robinson

Image to right: Georgianna meets astronaut Steve Robinson. Credit: Lou Ann Davis

"When we told Georgianna about the opportunity to meet some astronauts, her eyes lit up bright," said her mother. "She just can't get enough about astronauts."

Georgianna's mother has little doubt that her child has what it takes to be an astronaut, but she knows it won't happen without encouragement and support. "Twenty years from now, who knows what could happen?" she asked. "Georgianna likes challenges and she always tries to excel. I like to see her exposed to many different things, even if she can't master a skill on the first attempt. She's looking forward to increased science participation at school, and participates in a number of educational programs after school. As a mother, I'm anxious to support her the best way I can, so we take advantage of the resources in our community."

One of the strongest community resources available to Georgianna is her participation in the science program at her Boys and Girls Club. The programs there are taught by her regular afterschool instructors who received training, support and materials from the American Museum of Natural History under a NASA grant.

Astronaut Charles Camarda with a young friend
Georgianna loves space, but she also loves to dance. She studies jazz, ballet and African dance, and is also beginning vocal lessons. It's that well-rounded aspect of her personality that others feel will help her achieve her ambitious goals.

Image to left: Astronaut Charles Camarda greets Georgianna, a young friend. Credit: Lou Ann Davis

"Georgianna was [a] V.I.P. for the day at the museum," said Gretchen Walker, education program manager at the museum. "She had access to the press area, and was able to get up close to the astronauts. Georgianna has such a terrific perspective on this. She doesn't think for one minute that this is an unachievable goal, and we all want to help encourage her to reach it."

Georgianna already knows what she's going to say to children she meets, once she's an astronaut. "When I'm older, I'll tell them to study hard, pay attention to the teacher and don't do anything bad. Astronauts are role models."

Maggie Griffin/NASA Educational Technology Services