On Tuesday NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the home of Mars Rover Curiosity, and Change the Equation hosted a live, interactive webcast focused on connecting students to STEM careers and helping them explore the STEM challenges they face.
The webcast featured actress and singer Keke Palmer as the webcast's "Mission Control Host," Dr. Linda P. Rosen, the CEO of Change the Equation, Bobak Ferdowsi, the flight director, of the Mars Rover Curiosity, and students from the Engineering and Environmental Science Academy at John Muir High School in Pasadena, California.
Viewers visited STEM-related companies like Rolls Royce and Glaxo Smith Kline and met scientists and engineers who are working on a variety of projects—everything from aerodynamics to creating drugs that battle diseases. They also visited companies you might not expect would be hubs of STEM activity—like Viacom, whose live events supervisor, Lanette Hines, talked about the science and tech that goes into producing live programming for networks like MTV. After all, you need plenty of tech know-how to ensure you get a satellite transmission to reach the world's televisions, no matter how bad the weather may be.
Ferdowsi shared details of Curiosity’s design and challenged viewers to take his job and become rover engineers. The task: Designing a vehicle so it can navigate over hard surfaces, soft sand, and over large rocks. The student participants from John Muir High quickly discovered that figuring that out isn’t the easiest thing, but they certainly brought their creativity to the task.
Indeed, as Palmer pointed out at the end, the creativity and STEM-based thinking that went into designing Curiosity is the foundation for everything we do. “It’s bigger than just schoolwork or after school clubs,” Palmer said.
To keep student exploration of STEM and the careers that are relevant to it going, check out iONFuture, Change the Equation’s new STEM career exploration game.