As the days of the great shuttle program draw to a close I keep thinking about what a great event it would be if there could be a special NASA tweetup for kids at either the last or the next to last shuttle launch. The reasons are obvious, I am sure. We need to make that inspirational imprint on our future, and our future is our youth of today.
Now, I am sure many youngsters from the Florida region have accompanied their parents to shuttle launches; however, I am not certain that they have ever benefited from a full NASA tweetup program. The opportunity for tours and maybe to meet and listen to some of our astronaut heroes as well as witnessing a live launch creates an indelible impression and stimulus.
I mentioned this on Twitter and have gotten some positive reactions and recommendations. In all cases the kids, or course, would need to be accompanied by an adult. The kids ideally should be in grades 6-12 with preference for kids in grades 6-8 This latter grouping has the highest promise of serious impact. So how do we do it? Here are some ideas:
1. The tweetup invitation goes out to adults, but has the requirement that to qualify for attendance they must be accompanied by a child within the grade groupings mentioned above.
2. Ideally it would be nice to select kids with above average school performance, but this may impose too much paperwork and delays in the selection process to make it workable.
3. The NASA courtesies extended to prior tweetups should apply here as well.
4. The announcement and offer should be widespread across the country; however, family budget limitations may keep some from making the trip. We need to consider this in the scope of the program
5. Of course, SpaceTweep members with children would certainly be most welcome, but SpaceTweepSociety membership should not necessarily be a criterion.
6. Lastly, please review this suggestion, and respond in the comments section and hopefully we will be able to move forward with a specific plan.
Before you comment, those of you who have witnessed a live shuttle launch, consider your own experiences and emotions and project them forward for these children. They will never forget it, and many I suspect will rise to join the space science community.In doing so, they will enrich the future of all humankind.