Exploration is at the heart of Scouting, giving young people the chance to experience places they’ve never been before and to dive into new adventures. This month, many Scouts have unique opportunities to vicariously explore outer space and learn about STEM topics in a fun, interactive way.
Last week, Cub Scout Pack 643 of the Bay Area hosted a 20-minute Earth-to-space call with a NASA astronaut living aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Expedition 52 Flight Engineer Jack Fischer answered questions from Scouts about life in space as part of NASA Educations’ STEM on Station program. Scouts were thrilled to talk to a real, live astronaut, watch him do a flip in microgravity and learn what it’s like to float through space. You can watch the full Q&A here.
Boy Scout Troop 209 out of Chicago also had a once-in-a-lifetime interaction with the ISS recently: watching a biology experiment troop members designed and built blast off into space aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. Many of the Scouts involved in the project traveled to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to watch the launch on August 13. The troop earned the prestigious opportunity to send its payload into orbit by winning a contest sponsored by the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space, in partnership with the BSA. The experiment, which measures DNA mutation rates, will span 30 days in space, and then return to Earth for additional data collection.
These experiences clearly are unique, but all Scouts interested in space soon will have a chance to experience a rare astronomical phenomenon – the upcoming solar eclipse. This is one of nature’s greatest spectacles. In some locations, Scouts standing outdoors will be able to watch the world grow dark and, with appropriate eye protection, view the rim of the sun blazing around the edges of the moon. I’ll be looking skyward and I hope as many Scouts as possible also will watch this event on Monday, Aug. 21, in-person or via live-stream. In the meantime, Scouts can prepare by building an eclipse viewer or learning more about this milestone event while completing the requirements to earn the BSA 2017 Solar Eclipse patch.
I’m thrilled that so many of our young people will get to expand their horizons beyond our planet this month. I’d love to hear how you’re encouraging exploration through STEM in the comments below or on Twitter @BSAChief.
Yours in Scouting,
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