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Surprisingly STEM: Thermal Blanket Technician

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NASA thermal blanket technician Paula Cain at work


Educators, Students

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Grades K-4, Grades 5-8, Grades 9-12, Higher Education, Informal Education


Careers, Life Science, Living and Working in Space


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You’ll surely get wrapped up in this episode of Surprisingly STEM featuring Paula Cain, a thermal blanket technician at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. She covers why things sent into space need to be protected by a thermal blanket, and shares how two of her passions – fashion design and Star Trek – were interwoven into an exciting career at NASA!

Find out how Paula Cain took her of love of sewing and fashion design and transformed that love into her career at NASA as a thermal blanket technician. Thermal blankets, or “clothes for spacecraft,” help spacecraft function in the extreme environment of space. NASA’s Thermal Blanket Lab is a vital part of ensuring that the important equipment that NASA sends into space remains protected from getting too hot or too cold.

Surprisingly STEM is a video series that highlights exciting and unexpected careers at NASA. Each episode highlights a member of NASA’s workforce, focusing on their unique job and how their personal journey led them to that career.

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In this challenge, students will set up their own scientific investigations to test a variety of materials for properties and abilities to endure wear and tear.

Next Generation Science Standards: 2PS1-1, 2PS1-2, K-2-ETS1 Engineering Design, 3-5-ETS1 Engineering Design

Download Activity:  MISSE-X: Materials International Space Station Experiment-X