“Do your homework, eat your green beans and never give up on your dreams.”
A crowd of students quietly exiting the conference auditorium stopped and slowly turned toward NASA Astronaut Leland Melvin as his voice echoed from the stage. Sitting beside Melvin were astronauts Charlie Bolden, Mary Cleave, Sergey Krikalev, Reinhold Ewald and André Kuipers, smiling in their direction.
Star-struck, the young students nodded in agreement. Little did they know, they are a part of a generation that will not only return to the moon, but will continue forward to Mars and beyond. This generation is the Artemis Generation, and they’ll need all the green beans they can eat.
“I am the first NASA Administrator that was not alive when we had people on the moon,” said Jim Bridenstine at the 70th Annual International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Washington, D.C. on Oct. 25, 2019.
Each year, IAC brings together the global space community for collaboration and conversation related to space exploration and advancement. This IAC marked the 50th anniversary of man’s first steps on the moon, which took place two years before Bridenstine was born.
“We don’t need to let another generation go by that doesn’t have that memory,” continued Jim. “It’s time to make a new memory for a new generation- the Artemis Generation.”
In Greek mythology, Artemis is Apollo’s twin sister, serving as goddess of the Moon and the hunt. Through NASA’s Artemis program, she will represent humanity’s return to the moon by the year 2024, and the arrival of woman on the moon for the first time.
“This time when we go to the moon, we are going to stay. And we’re going to include a very diverse, highly qualified astronaut core that includes women,” said Bridenstine.
From the moon, NASA has their sights on Mars. While current NASA scientists are working on advancements for the Artemis mission that did not exist during Apollo, including updated spacesuits with internal cooling and waste systems, there will be new challenges in space exploration that will need to be met. New advancements will need to be made. And new scientists, engineers, researchers, mathematicians and communicators will have to emerge.
According to astronaut Charlie Bolden, you don’t have to be a scientist to help advance the nation’s missions in space exploration.
“We need people in the arts and in STEAM, not just STEM,” said Bolden. “STEAM changed NASA.”
As he said this, Bolden motioned to a group of social media professionals, educators and space enthusiasts sitting in the panel crowd, including Amanda Frueler, ORAU social media specialist.
“It is critical we have people in this field who can communicate our stories and how we feel,” said Bolden.
- Sally Ride applied for NASA 13 times before being accepted.
- Anyone born in 1998 hasn’t lived a day of their life without having a human being in space.
- Astronaut Leland Melvin was a wide receiver for the Detroit Lions in the NFL before becoming a NASA astronaut.
NASA stayed true to Bolden’s message at IAC. The agency invited more than 35 social media users to the conference to help share the stories of research, expertise and technology being presented on an international scale. Later in the afternoon, the group was invited to NASA’s headquarters where they received exclusive presentations by lead scientists and engineers. With cellphones and tablets handy, NASA encouraged the group to capture and share all of the day’s events on their personal social media accounts, and share the content using #IAC2019 and #NASASocial.
“Being given the opportunity to share NASA’s mission, expertise and thought-leadership with ORAU’s audience was an unforgettable experience,” said Freuler. “This event was both eye-opening and inspiring for any professional in STEAM and STEAM education. It’s gratifying to know there’s a spot in NASA’s world for teachers, students, and a diverse workforce.”
During his Artemis presentation, Bridenstine was sure to emphasize the importance of inspiring students internationally to pursue STEAM.
“When we landed on Mars with [the rover] Insight it was on the cover of every newspaper worldwide, and really for the first time that’s when I saw how impactful this little agency called NASA… is in inspiring children and really shaping their imagination,” Bridenstine said.
And it sounds like there will continue to be plenty of opportunities for the Artemis Generation to help advance the nation’s mission forward to the Moon and Mars in years to come. Until then, eat your green beans, kids.