NASA astronaut Cady Coleman has been living and working aboard the International Space Station, orbiting 220 miles above Earth for over three months now, but that did not stop her fielding questions from 20 city students among the many who attended a forum led by senior officials from NASA on Tuesday.
The high voltage education forum - co-hosted by fashion designer Donna Karan's Urban Zen Foundation and the Foundation for Advancing Women Now, founded by singer Mary J. Blige - was aimed to share the excitement of space exploration with the students and also inspire in them, particularly young girls, an interest in and enthusiasm to pursue science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) studies and careers.
Over 200 New York middle school and high school students from the Women's Academy of Excellence; the Promise Academy; the New York City Housing Authority; and the General D. Chappie James Middle School of Science attended the event at the Stephen Weiss Studio in Greenwich Village.
In the words of NASA's Associate Administrator for Education Leland Melvin, a former astronaut, The primary focus of NASA's education mission is to use the excitement and wonder of our programs to ignite a spark for all students to follow STEM studies that can lead to exciting career options.
The interaction with Coleman was one in a series with educational organizations in the U.S. and abroad to improve STEM teaching and learning. It is an integral component of Teaching From Space, a NASA Education office, that allows ISS crewmembers to perform curriculum-based activities in space to demonstrate basic principles of science, math, engineering and geography, and answer questions real-time from students on Earth.