On January 15, 2021, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback and former NASA extern, Joshua Dobbs, interviewed three Expedition 64 crew members, currently serving on the International Space Station, about their engineering passion in order to spark students’ interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
Astronaut Commander Victor Glover, Mike Hopkins and Soichi Noguchi spoke with Dobbs as they stood weightlessly in their spaceship and passed the microphone by floating it to one another due to the lack of gravity in space. They even had a football that stayed suspended in the air, as if held up by a string, as the astronauts tossed it around.
“It’s actually harder than you think. Not having gravity makes it a little tougher to throw a nice spiral at your intended target,” joked Glover.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, “If we want a nation where our future leaders, neighbors and workers can understand and solve some of the complex challenges of today and tomorrow, and to meet the demands of the dynamic and evolving workforce, building students’ skills, content knowledge and literacy in STEM fields is essential.” Showing students how their science and math classes can lead them to cool careers such as doing work in space is definitely helpful in this effort!
Events such as this one held by the Steelers and EVERFI as well as teachers who are supportive in their students’ efforts to excel in STEM certainly go a long way. When Dobbs asked the astronauts about what sparked their interest to join the field of engineering, Glover said it all started with his fifth grade teacher.
“My interest in math encouraged him to suggest I considered engineering. My teacher’s belief in me continues to resonate today, and he’s one of the reasons that I chose engineering as a profession,” Glover proudly stated.
In Fiscal Year 2020, The U.S. Department of Education announced that they invested $578 million to support high-quality STEM education for students, that even includes computer science. NASA also supports STEM by seeking to create unique opportunities for a diverse set of students, building a diverse future STEM workforce by engaging students in authentic learning experiences with NASA’s people, content and facilities, and attracting diverse groups of students to STEM through learning opportunities that spark interest and provide connections to NASA’s mission and work (nasa.gov).
To watch the replay of this event, click here.