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NASA administrator’s visit to Discovery emphasizes careers in science

Donald G. James, NASA Association Administrator for Education, visited Discovery Middle School to underscore career options in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). (CONTRIBUTED)
Donald G. James, NASA Association Administrator for Education, visited Discovery Middle School to underscore career options in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). (CONTRIBUTED)

MADISON – Donald G. James, NASA Association Administrator for Education, visited Discovery Middle School to underscore the career options in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

James works in NASA’s Washington headquarters. Patrick Scheuermann, director of Marshall Space Flight Center, accompanied James for the visit on Oct. 29 to the Discovery STEM Academy building.

James explained challenges of deep-space travel and told Discovery students that they could be the ones to reach solutions.

“Be open to the possibility of changing one’s mind in career pursuits,” James said. “Recognize much of what one learns in school will be relevant no matter the career. Consider your career as the top of a triangle that requires a strong foundation.”

Discovery Principal Melanie Barkley said hosting the officials was an honor for teachers, students and staff in Madison City Schools. “With the new STEM program that we’re developing, it’s fitting to be able to host and hear from the head of NASA,” Barkley said.

A STEM course is one of the electives that Discovery and Liberty middle schools are offering this school year. “We’re partnering with numerous businesses and groups to explore different careers available to students,” Barkley said.

Discovery and Liberty have increased electives, thanks to a five-block day instead of four. “It’s exciting time to be a middle school student in Madison,” Barkley said.

James said NASA employees and others with technical careers should share their passion about science with youth. “You don’t really know whom you’re going to reach. Just because I showed up today, some people decided they are going to pursue something in STEM. That’s good enough for me,” James said.

In addition, students watched FBI special agent Kerry Straub’s demonstration with a remote-controlled robot that maneuvered through obstacles to retrieve a backpack.

NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden was scheduled to visit Madison but canceled because of the rocket launch failure in Virginia.

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