Children at the Smyrna Public Library will get the chance to learn more about science and math thanks to a trip Children's Librarian Kriss Mera took in November as part of a NASA Space Science Training program.
Mera went down to Cocoa Beach, Fla. for four days and received training in math and science. She ended the week with the experience of a lifetime by watching the launch of the MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN) mission.
The MAVEN mission, according to NASA's website, is part of the Mars Scout Program and will allow NASA to explore the planet's upper atmosphere, ionosphere, and the planet's interaction with the Sun and solar wind.
Mera was one of 40 participants in the program, which enabled librarians and camp counselors across the country the chance to attend. The program, from Nov. 15 to 18, included classes at the Lunar and Planetary Institutes Explore program that offered hands-on activities for presenting space science programs to children. Participants learned about Mars science and exploration, met with NASA scientists and engineers, learned about the MAVEN mission, received activity guides and programming resources, toured NASA's Kennedy Space Center and more. Bill Nye "The Science Guy" was even on hand for the event.
Mera hopes to incorporate what she learned at the training in various ways at the Smyrna Public Library; one such way is by having a connection with the Summer Reading Program.
"Fizz, Boom, Read is the theme for our summer reading program so science is going to be big with it," Mera said.
Mera said this was the first time she went on a trip such as this to learn more for work and it's definitely something she'll do again. Her family even got the chance to go down to Florida with her for the trip; they went to Disney World while she was in training and then attended the launch with her.
Mera said she had previously applied for a separate NASA training program that was cancelled. When this training program came about, she was notified that her application could be submitted again. Mera wanted to attend the training so she could find a way to bring math and science learning to the library.
"I think we need to bring more science to our kids. Just like with S.T.E.M. [Science. Technology. Engineering. Math.], we need to bring more math and science to our kids and this is a great opportunity to bring that to the library," Mera said. "Math and science encompasses everything we do. Math and science is computers, it's working in a restaurant. Math and science can be used by everybody. It advances us as a society."
Not only will Mera bring math and science activities to the children in the Smyrna-Clayton area thanks to the program, but she got to experience something most people don't get the chance to do in person: watch a rocket launch.
"It's was inspiring and educational. It was a lifetime opportunity," Mera said.