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  2/26: Tom Jones at Fairfax, VA elementary school

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Author Topic:   2/26: Tom Jones at Fairfax, VA elementary school

Posts: 1319
From: Centreville, VA, USA
Registered: Feb 2007

posted 03-28-2013 10:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for stsmithva   Click Here to Email stsmithva     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I've been fortunate enough to have had "astronaut encounters" at such places as the National Air and Space Museum and Kennedy Space Center, but last month one of my favorite experiences so far took place at the elementary school where I teach. Astronaut Tom Jones, a veteran of four shuttle missions and a resident of Fairfax County, Virginia, gave two presentations (one for students in grades 4-6, and another for grades 1-3) in our gym. (I had invited him after meeting him at a couple of events, like Discovery's arrival over Udvar-Hazy last year.)

I've seen dozens of assemblies, and I've never seen students so interested and inspired. He told them about not giving up after his first two applications for astronaut training were rejected, and how important it is for them to keep their hopes alive. He then described his experiences in space and possible future space exploration programs, showing photos and videos. He answered questions at the end, and that could have lasted another hour — there was a forest of raised hands.

(Actually, there were three more brief presentations: since the kindergarten students couldn't have quite handled a 45-minute talk, even with thrilling photos and videos, he kindly visited all three of their classrooms for a few minutes.)


Posts: 1319
From: Centreville, VA, USA
Registered: Feb 2007

posted 03-29-2013 12:08 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for stsmithva   Click Here to Email stsmithva     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A big thanks to cS member Joel Katzowitz for helping make a great aspect of this day possible. Jones had agreed to sign a photo for each classroom, so I found the best 20 or so online and wrote captions for them, and Joel used his graphics expertise to add those captions so the final prints (two of each, which I mailed to Jones ahead of time) looked fantastic. Here are a couple of my favorites:

And here is the display case at the entrance of our school, showing one of each photo:

(The shuttle model was a present a couple of years ago from cS member Jonathan Ward, who had hoped I'd be able to use it to help teach my students. All 1,000 kids at our school have been looking at it this month, Jonathan!)

There is a cable channel here dedicated to our schools. A film crew came and did a brief story on Jones's visit.

I'd like to think that our students are interested when they read about and see videos of space exploration as part of our curriculum, but Tom Jones did an absolutely fantastic job of making its past and future come alive for them.


Posts: 961
Registered: Aug 2002

posted 03-29-2013 03:10 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for MarylandSpace   Click Here to Email MarylandSpace     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thank you Dr. Jones for continuing to inspire our students about STEM and space. You are appreciated.


Posts: 1219
From: Smithfield, Me, USA
Registered: Mar 2005

posted 03-29-2013 07:45 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for MCroft04   Click Here to Email MCroft04     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Great story Steve! My daughter teaches 1st grade in San Antonio, Tx so I had Tom sign a photo for her class. She also skyped me and they asked questions for almost an hour. Not as good as asking an astronaut questions, but they enjoyed it (and asked good questions).

Joel Katzowitz

Posts: 325
From: Marietta GA USA
Registered: Dec 1999

posted 03-30-2013 07:22 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Joel Katzowitz   Click Here to Email Joel Katzowitz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm delighted to hear the Tom Jones visit was a success, there's nothing more important than positively impacting children. I'm also glad I could contribute to the success.

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