On June 9th and 10th, Dr. Andrew Mattioda, of the NASA Ames NAI (NASA Astrobiology Institute) CAN 7 team, participated in the Chickasaw Nation Aeronautics and Space Academy (CNASA), held in Ada, OK. The Chickasaw Nation conducts the week-long camp to encourage their Native American youth to consider careers in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields. During his two days at the camp, Dr. Mattioda talked to the students about NASA and STEM career opportunities as well as conducted hands-on science demonstrations with the 18, 8th to 12th grade students, teaching them about infrared light and spectroscopy. With the help of Dr. Carl Rutledge, East Central University, Ada, OK, the students were able to view Venus, Jupiter and Saturn and, during the day, solar prominences and sun spots.
One of the Chickasaw students could not believe a person from NASA came all the way just for them. She kept asking “Why are you really here?” Another student, excited by his NAI grab bag, exclaimed “If I end up developing faster than light travel it is because you were here today and gave us all of this!” This statement highlights the impact educational outreach has on students.
While working at the camp, Dr. Mattioda was interviewed by the Chickasaw Nation TV as well as their nation’s newspaper (links will be provided when they become available).
CNASA students viewing solar prominences as Drs. Rutledge and Mattioda look on.