We Should Explore Mars So That Our Students Will Keep Dreaming Big
Why send humans to Mars? Because as Gene Roddenberry said, “We are on a journey to keep an appointment with whatever we are.” As a space science educator, a lover of Star Trek, and someone who played “astronaut” on the playground, sending humans to Mars is more than just a good sci-fi fantasy, it is an imperative for humanity. Mars is the first outpost in the colonization of other worlds. And thanks to countless orbiters, landers, and rovers… the more we learn about it, the more Mars beckons.
For the past 16 years, I have endeavored to find ways to connect students’ natural curiosity with the wonders of our solar system and the universe, and always with an eye looking back at Earth. As a STEM/STEAM educator, I believe that we must teach science as the greatest adventure story of all time; and allow and inspirestudents to dream beyond their house, their town, and their own Earth-bound experience.
Listen to any scientist, engineer or entrepreneurial visionary who is passionate and committed about going to Mars and you will see that the parallels between a human endeavor to Mars and an education that elevates STEM/STEAM skills are remarkably similar. Getting to Mars and creating a skilled labor force for our nation is all about building with the same organic material. And I am not talking about aluminum, steel or titanium. I am talking about the robust material of minds… young, brilliant, future scientific and engineering minds. Howard Bloom, founder, and chair of the Space Development Steering Committee says it this way: “Rockets roar into space using two forms of fuel. One is the liquid in the rocket’s tanks. The other is the fuel in the human heart. Yes, big dreams are fueled by the raw stuff of the human spirit: excitement, awe, and desire. Those emotions power us to do the impossible. So when you’re looking for a goal, find the one that excites you and your fellow humans the most.”