An unbelievable experience for an admitted ‘space nerd’

I saw a room the size of four football fields filled with space agencies from all over the world!

Amy Farkas
– Special to the Riverview Register

On Friday October 25th, I went on an adventure that most people only dream about…well, at least, nerds like me.

This is how it began, with a letter:

Congratulations! Recently you applied for social media credentials to attend the 70th International Astronautical Congress (IAC) with us and visit NASA Headquarters after the event for a behind-the-scenes experience.  We are pleased to let you know that your application has been approved to attend the event!

I almost had a heart attack!  This would be my second NASA Social this year, with the first having taken place in March at Langley Research Center when the #MoonToMars Initiative was announced!  I embraced this opportunity because I knew it would enable me to bring back priceless first-hand information about space exploration to my STEM students.

During the event, I was able to attend the IAC with a behind-the-scenes look at NASA’s work, speak with subject matter experts from NASA after the IAC at NASA headquarters, meet fellow space enthusiasts who are active on social media and meet members of NASA’s social media team and chief scientists and engineers.

When I arrived at the IAC, I realize that my initial planned purpose of attending deep-dive sessions to learn about current space efforts was not something that would be as valuable for my students as what I was looking at before me. 

I saw a room the size of four football fields filled with space agencies from all over the world! You see, this is the first time that the IAC has been back in the United States in 17 years.

Even I, a self-proclaimed space nerd, was floored at the vast number of countries that were present and showcasing their current efforts in space.

I made it my mission to meet delegates from as many countries as possible, recording with photos or video information from all of the scientists and people that I interacted with. 

My logic is simply this, if I had no idea about the width and breadth of the global involvement in space exploration, I guarantee that my students aren’t either and I would like to remedy that.  You can follow my IAC journey on my YouTube Channel dedicated to these trips at FarkasSTEM.

When the end of the day at the IAC rolled around, all the NASA social participants were rounded up and we took the Metro to NASA headquarters. Here we were able to hear from the following experts about the current status of NASA investigations in their chosen fields:

Kevin Metrocavage, International Space Station Operations Manager

Jim Green, NASA Chief Scientist

Sarah Noble, Planetary Geologist

Lindsay Aitchison, Space Technologist

Paul Wizikowski, Special Advisor to the Administrator

As a part of our agreement to attend, we also agreed to publicize the event as much as possible using social media while the event was taking place.

Feel free to check out my Twitter @FarkasSTEM or my YouTube Channel FarkasSTEM to see the multitude of videos that I have uploaded for educators around the world to use in their classroom.

I am beyond grateful for this amazing experience, and can’t wait to adapt all of the new things that I learned into our space exploration unit!

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