Monday, March 21, 2011

So little time so much to here is the plan to share

Well, the Sun Earth Day NASA Tweetup is over...sort of.  I have tried very hard over the past 36 hours or so to organize my thoughts around how best to share my experience at Goddard Spaceflight Center.

A few quick things come to mind.  First is sharing will take place over multiple postings. Second, the amount information to be shared is massive. I will need to fact check a lot of items. Tweeting (on multiple devices), taking pictures, shooting video, and trying to listen, learn, and ask questions can lead to many bad things. Such as inaccurate numbers, misquoting a presenters comments, or confusing facts from multiple presentations.

I also want to present some themes and ideas that come to mind right now:
  • History. Believe it or not, history plays a key role on how we got to where we are today in Earth and space science. I think it is definitely worth exploring this as a topic.
  • The importance of education in all subjects, not just math, science, and engineering, but in  English, history, and geography. I want to discuss why being good at math and science is only one part of being a great scientist or engineer.
  • The role public outreach (i.e. - Twitter, Facebook, Tweetups, Twitter & web Chats, Foursquare & Gowalla, Flickr groups, video programing like NASA Edge, NASA TV, YouTube and HATCAM, bogging, podcasting, and live chat via Skype and Talkshoe) is critical to making the connections and starting the conversations. These are powerful and far reaching tools and concepts.
    • For example (this has not fact checked) it was said that the Sun Earth Day Tweetup had hit over 3.5 million "impressions" by the end of the live NASA Edge broadcast....we still had half the day to keep the connections growing!!! (A media impression is: the number of people who may have seen an article, heard something on the radio or in a podcast, watched something on television, or read something on a web page or blog - according to This means we "impressed" 3.5 million people one time each or maybe we "impressed" 350,000 people 10 times each. Whether you agree with this definition or not, 3.5 million is a sizable number and it shows we were having a significant impact to a large audience.
  • I also feel its important and interesting discuss past, present, and future Sun, Earth, and Planetary science missions.  I hope this will lead you to explore and discover some of the great NASA missions. I also want to look at Goddard's important role in developing, managing, and planning these missions.
  • You can expect a post on women in science, technology, and engineering. I was surprised and pleased at the number of bright, talented, and enthusiastic women I met at the Sun Earth Day Tweetup. This list includes presenters, coordinators, volunteers, and those in the tweetup group as well.  We had teachers, science enthusiasts, and self-professed space geeks in this group, many of whom were women. I don't care if you are a man or woman, I think we need to best and the brightest working at NASA. And I don't want the young women of today to thinking that space, science, or even NASA is a not a welcome profession. I know it is much better today than it was 20 years ago and there are many women entering and succeeding this these fields of work, but that fact that we still having the conversation means there is some work to be done. As a disclaimer I know a post like this may ruffle some feathers but it is meant as nothing more than a positive observation of the people I met at the Tweetup.
  • Finally, I want to share with you how this event has changed me.  With the focus on the youth of today (the next generation of scientists and engineers) I feel its important to look at the role someone like me plays in this focus. I also think its important to evaluate yourself when you have an experience that you think changes something about you, your values, your goals, and ideas. I'm not talking about just upending your life, I'm talking about seeing opportunities, evaluating them, and maybe, if the analysis justifies it, you can "fire your thrusters" and nudge that personal spacecraft of life into another direction. These can be short burns to slightly alter direction or speed or they can be major maneuvers that change the entire mission. Either way I want to explore what type of burn I need, I'm comfortable saying that it is going to be a small one, just enough to change direction over the long run. Not enough to upset the balance with my family or my obligation to them, but enough of a course correction to re-task the long term mission.
Well, that's a lot for me to get out in this post. But I feel I have some direction. I hope these are topics and conversations that you will share and enjoy. Maybe you will even take part in the debate, adding to the body of ideas and moving them forward to another level. Many of the themes will be over multiple postings so there will be opportunities to influence, engage, and inspire the direction and outcome of the conversations.

I can't wait to start this adventure of exploration and discovery. What about you?


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