Moncton High School students shared an out-of-this-world experience on Monday, when a NASA space scientist spent the day at the school hoping to encourage more students to study science.
Ted Gull, a NASA astronomer, spent close to 40 years studying the stars for NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.
“I think a lot of kids at this age — freshmen in high school — have not really thought a lot about where they want to go and what they want to do when they grow up,” said Gull.
Gull says he wants to show students that the sky is not at all the limit, that they can reach for the stars just like he did.
Gull grew up in small town South Dakota and was the first in his family to go to college. Back then, he says he never imagined that one day he would go on to become one of the world’s leading astronomers tasked with designing instruments for the infamous Hubble telescope.
“There is an instrument about the size of a telephone booth inside and it is still operational that I helped build,” Gull said.
For the past 26 years, the Hubble has helped scientist gaze millions of light years into space.
“In a sense astronomy is really archaeology because everything that we see in terms of coming from the stars happened in the past,” he said.
As the love affair with space exploration expands into the future, Gull says we need more young minds to study science and astronomy, particularly young women.
“You don’t see a lot of women in astronomy or fields he is working in,” said Grade 9 student Aziza Nester, who said she just started studying astronomy in school, finding it fascinating.
According to the American Astronomical Society, only about 20 per cent of astronomers registered with their world wide organization are women.
Gull would like to see that number increase to at least 50 per cent.