Browsing articles from "January, 2012"

Who Wants to be an Astronaut?

Jan 9, 2012   //   by pgreyer   //   Latest Buzz  //  No Comments

If you missed the announcement in November that NASA has opened applications for it’s 2013 Astronaut class you still have time to apply for a once in a lifetime chance to have a career that many desire yet few are chosen for. Seems that being an astronaut is a dream that many people have. Even this guy applied to NASA.

Elvis at NASA 1963

Elvis applies to NASA in 1963's "It Happened at the World's Fair". Image courtesy @NASA

Today, January 8th, is Elvis’ birthday and @NASA posted this picture to day happy birthday Elvis. In the film, Elvis was a pilot. I’m sure crop dusting is a long way from wanting to go into space but hey, it’s a movie. Whether the idea was NASA’s or the producers, or Elvis himself, it got a big product placement shot for NASA and possibly increased interest in our nation’s fledgling space program and inspired some kids who watched the movie to desire to be a rock star and an astronaut at the same time.

I say dream big and reach beyond the stars. Dreams do come true!

Here is the link to apply to be part of the 2013 astronaut class. The application closes January 27, 2012 so get to it!

It’s Official….I’m an Author!

Jan 4, 2012   //   by pgreyer   //   Latest Buzz, NASA, The Launch Pad  //  No Comments

And to think I had started to not think at all, my book and my characters had come to a stall. It’s belief in oneself and a strong self esteem that will keep you inspired and able to dream!
—- Pam Greyer

Starwhirl2012 is the year that many of my dreams will actually come true! In 2006 (it’s been a long time coming) I sat under an amazing starry sky in Arizona on a beautiful summer night. Staring at the stars led to a conversation about student misconceptions of how far away stars were, how we see their twinkle, and most importantly the fact that they are always in the sky but we need the cloak of night for their brilliance to shine! From this conversation came the idea for a book. I’ve been told for years that my strength and true talent is in writing. I realized this many years ago as an undergrad student when a professor told me I had a true gift for writing. My initial dream was to one day win a Cleo award for some phenomenal advertising copy that would surely lead to an award winning campaign. Over the years I wrote everything from print ads, to radio and television commercials, documentaries, business-to-business marketing, collateral pieces, and everything in between. I bought every copy of Writers Digest for years and decided that I would pursue a career as an author. I just had to sit down and write something!

Well I never found the time or to be more specific I never took writing a book seriously. I made some attempts at starting a novel or two over the years but my heart wasn’t in it. When I began teaching years ago I saw this as an opportunity to share not only my skill with a video camera and an editing console, but I could also teach young people how to write and tell stories. I did that over the course of a twenty+ year career as an educator teaching English, Science, and coordinating programs along the way. When I became the Director of the NASA SEMAA Chicago site I came full circle back to my first passion of science but I could also inspire students to develop a love of words as they wrote, blogged, and researched some of the coolest science content on the planet. The idea for the book came in the same year as budget cuts to NASA’s education programs were threatening the closure of some SEMAA sites. We were on that list and I was determined to do everything in my power to keep the opportunity for our young people to stay engaged with NASA.

I originally thought it would be a novel for young adults and I began crafting characters and creating an outline. Then on a flight back to Chicago from Arizona that was more bumpy than normal I caught an inspiration. I think it was really more a fear that if the plane fell out of the sky I would at least have begun my book and while I wouldn’t have it finished in a two and half hour flight it would at least be a good framework and I would know that I didn’t just abandon the idea. That night I wrote seventy-five percent of the book and it morphed from being a novel into a children’s book complete with rhymes and some really stellar characters! I shared it with my family and my son thought it was incredible. “Finish it,” was all he said. This should have been an easy task but I let other things in my life that I gave power and precedence to become more important. I embarked on a mission to move the NASA Aeronautics Education Laboratory to a new location and get the SEMAA site re-opened. Every so often my son would look at me and say, “Finish your book.”

He gave me a deadline of his birthday in June of 2010 but of course while I did go back to the story and did some editing I still wasn’t finished. I watched the principal and Chief Area Officer district shut down one of the most fabulous and unique K-12 STEM programs with NASA as a prime content provider and made a decision that sometimes a incredibly large school district may not be the best partner to effect improvement in science instruction. So armed with seven years of experience in inspiring young people to develop a love of learning about and doing science, The NASA Lady was born. Over the last year I have had some of the most incredible experiences. I was selected for five NASA Tweetups and attended three; the launch of STS-133, 2011 JPL Tweetup, and the SOFIA Media Event. I was selected too for the NASA HQ Tweetup with Astro_Wheels (astronaut Doug Wheelock) and the return of STS-135 at Johnson Space Center in Houston but other commitments kept me from these. I went to the Mojave desert with Teachers in Space and flew in a glider with former space shuttle commander Rick Searfoss and wrote up an experiment that will hopefully get me into the next class of pioneer teachers who will fly into sub-orbital space on XCOR’s Lynx spacecraft in the very near future.

I stay connected with presentations and outreach workshops as a NASA Solar System Ambassador and my volunteer work with the Stars @ Yerkes teacher program will never stop. In reflection of all the challenges I faced in 2011 I also realized that I accomplished some amazing things including the release of our 2010 Imagine Mars Student video project. Thus inspiration hit me at last and I took to the laptop and finished the book on Christmas Eve battling the second worse cold I’ve had in the last ten years but at last I am an author of a book!

They say inspiration comes in many ways and in celebrating the completion of my book there still lies another road ahead, getting it illustrated. The good thing about a novel is you only need cover art but a children’s book isn’t a children’s book without art on every page. A friend of mine and I wanted to catch the Dr. Seuss exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry before it leaves this Sunday. As we walked through the exhibit it was full of inspiration at every turn. Theodore Giesel was more than just a children’s author. He was an incredible illustrator who drew editorial cartoons, magazine covers, and advertising campaigns. While his Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham, One Fish, Two Fish, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas is embedded in the hearts and memories of most of us, his genius went far beyond that. I read so many of his books to my son when he was little and I always wondered how he came up with those fantastical animals and moving contraptions. The exhibit explained all that, especially the sculptures which he created from beaks, horns, and other parts of dead animals from the Springfield, Massachusetts zoo his father ran. On the way into the Secret Garden, a collection of artwork that Geisel kept away from public eyes for years, there was a large wall that had a very simple message and a series of steps to turn any aspiring writer into a published author. The writings were simple and straight to point. It started off with a huge rejection slip and mentioned the twenty nine publishers that rejected his first book And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street. There was no talk about finding your muse or creating a comfortable writers space to get inspiration. The philosophy was simple, just write. The same words that my son said to me over and over and over.

Dr. Seuss Quote

The big blue wall encouraged coming up with an idea, crafting your characters, and telling a story. It’s just that simple. Finish it! At the end there was a suggestion too that with the plethora of outlets available for getting your book published these days you could be on your way to literary fame just like Dr. Seuss in no time!

Of course, just like Dr. Seuss my mind never stops. As soon as the illustrations are done the book will be published for the Amazon Kindle and other eReaders. I will epublish it but I want to read it as well to young people so I will need hard copies. There is still magic in turning the pages of a book and running your fingers over beautifully illustrated pages. The book will become part of my new 2012 science literacy initiative and I am excited to share my characters with people around the world to help bring a greater understanding to often confusing science concepts. The little book that almost wasn’t has spawned a complete series that I see in my head even as I write this. I don’t know if I’ll write over forty books like Dr. Seuss but I’m on a roll and as they say, “You’re only as good as your last piece of work.”

It’s great to be alive but even greater to have an opportunity to continue inspiring people from all walks of life in every corner of the world with the wonders that are science and the beauty that space and our Universe so gladly offer up to all of us every day for free.

Peace and Prosperity in the New Year!

XOXO – The NASA Lady


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