A big part of NASA’s mission has always been to educate students and inspire the next generation of explorers, whether they’re astronauts, scientists or engineers. That mission has never been more important than right now. The President has challenged us to win the future, and to do that, we must win the race to educate our children.
I had the privilege today to speak to a great group of students at the MathScience Innovation Center in Richmond, Virginia. It’s always a pleasure to talk to young people. They are eager to create the future. These students know how important math and science is, and their teachers and parents know how important it is that they have a chance to learn and build skills in this area. Studying science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, opens up many diverse career opportunities and helps our country create a future that innovates to solve problems, create new technologies to meet our needs, and explore the boundaries of our solar system and beyond.
What students across the United States and the students I met with today from Albert Hill Middle School learn today will help us be globally competitive tomorrow. Today, the students built paper rockets. Tomorrow, they may be putting the final touches on a new design for a NASA rocket that carries a science payload or a crew of humans into the next great chapter of exploration.
The President’s call for us to win the future means we all need the skills and capabilities to stay competitive in the global economy. STEM education is not just about filling heads with knowledge. It’s about creating prosperity now and for future generations. As our commercial partners develop better and more cost effective ways for reaching low Earth orbit and we at NASA plan and design the missions that will explore our home planet in greater detail to reach for the outer solar system and beyond, good high-tech, high-paying jobs will continue to grow in the STEM fields. Students who study and prepare for the STEM fields will have the chance to take part in this whole universe of opportunities. As a result of their hard work and determination our country will be stronger and more competitive.
Here’s a great picture of me learning from the students:
Photo credit: NASA/Paul Alers
See this and other photos from the event at Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nasahqphoto/5396383560/