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Curious Ed Goes From "Gearhead" to Scientist
Who are NASA's Space Science Explorers?

Who are NASA's Space Science Explorers? The scientist studying black holes in space. The teacher talking about the secrets of the cosmos. And the student asking if there is life away from Earth. All of these people are Space Science Explorers. They are all curious about our solar system and space. This is a story about a NASA Space Science Explorer.

Growing up, Ed Prather dreamed of racing cars and motorcycles. Now, as an adult, he’s a scientist and a teacher. One thing has stayed the same the whole time. Ed has always been curious.

A photo of Ed Prather and a picture of a motocross rider

Curiosity led Ed Prather from cars and motorcycles to physics and teaching. Image Credit: NASA

"I was always curious about machines," said Ed. In high school, he was more interested in learning about cars than in science or math. Ed calls himself a “gearhead” because he's so interested in the gears that make cars go.

After high school, Ed worked at places where cars and cranes were put together. He was really curious about cranes and decided to learn more about how they work. Then he was able to teach others at work what he had learned. He liked finding simple ways to explain something so hard.

"The idea of helping someone understand was fascinating and fun," he said.

Before long, Ed was becoming an expert in the science of how things work. For a time, he used his knowledge to study how the universe works. But what he really wanted to do was teach science.

Ed now teaches NASA science to students at the University of Arizona. He's always thinking up ways to help them understand tough subjects.

Working with students is the best part of his job, Ed said. He's glad he stayed curious about the world around him. He tells his students to do the same.

And he still finds time to something else he likes: racing cars and motorcycles.

Related Resources
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory Center for Astronomy Education   →
StarChild   →

Prachi Patel, Institute for Global Environmental Strategies
Adapted for grades K-4 audience by Dan Stillman, Institute for Global Environmental Strategies