This is a re-post of a previous post. I re-post to honor today’s launch of the Mars Science Laboratory, a new step in robotic space exploration that will glean much science about the planet Mars. Today is a day to celebrate the collaboration and innovation of the United States. There will be more to come.
“We are very excited about sending the world’s most advanced scientific laboratory to Mars,” NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said. “MSL will tell us critical things we need to know about Mars, and while it advances science, we’ll be working on the capabilities for a human mission to the Red Planet and to other destinations where we’ve never been.“
See link:http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.cfm?release=2011-362 I am fascinated with space travel. I always have been. Maybe some of this interest comes from being a young child and watching the first man walk on the moon. I had no idea of its significance at that time, just that it was a cool thing to do. It was on TV. Of course today, everything is on TV. We never want for information and detail. We have that deluxe in many venues with the opinions that vary from fact to fiction. Back to space travel. . . Space exploration remains controversial because of the huge dollars it costs. This summer saw the end of an era with the last space shuttle flight. Again, glued to the television, I watched as the last planned manned space flight went on its journey. This moment was emotional for many and for me. The history of hard work, determination, excellence and innovation was all before me. I pondered the greatness of our country and what its scientists and engineers brought to discovery. So much of what we learn from space travel is not fully understood. It holds the key to the future in so many ways. It brings us information about what has come before us so we may know what will come after us. We learn about the atmosphere and development of weather systems and patterns and perhaps how our planet evolved from what exists beyond. We learn about the possibilities of life in places other than earth. This discovery continues with missions through satellites and robotic systems and perhaps, the value of manned space flight has lessened with technology. Still, something about its end haunts me. My pride in our country and its future seem to be on the table. The difficulties with the education system remain complex. What remains clear to me however, is the need to return to the spirit of innovation and creativity that took us to the moon. We need to put the personal and emotional baggage that creates hostile politics aside and focus on the future of our children. They are what matters. I think it is well known that the US has fallen behind in math and science in recent years. How much is up for discussion. Where we fall or why we are there is not as important as the need to make it better. The United States has always been an amazing country. It has put forth leadership in science and technology, and now is allowing other countries to be the innovators. I am all for partnerships, but we need to allow our youth to discover, create and invent. They need to dream and imagine things that I may never see. Yes, they need to learn to read and write, and of course to learn the fundamentals of mathematics. In all of that there must be room for discovery and creativity. Let the imagination take a chance. Design something that doesn’t work and learn from that process. What do you think? As teachers, administrators and parents are you ready for a risk? Do you realize that all the drill and kill is not making those test scores that much better? Can you try this experiment? Let students create and design, try to solve problems with information that they have learned and discovered, and THEN, see what the tests say. Here is NASA’s take on the benefits of space travel: http://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/hqlibrary/pathfinders/spinoff.htm