For Lisa Love, a special education teacher at H.L. Suverkrup Elementary School, space and astronomy have been longtime interests.
That’s why for the past two years she applied numerous times to attend a “NASA Social” event, where folks travel to NASA facilities and get to witness science in action, then share their experiences on social media.
After application number seven, though, she felt a little discouraged.
“I don’t have a ton of Twitter followers or Facebook followers like so many other people do, so I figured that might have had something to do with it,” she said.
But it seems the eighth time was the charm for Love, who was accepted and got to travel to the “space coast” in Florida to witness a rocket launch and tour Kennedy Space Center.
“I was really, really excited to find out,” she said.
The event that Love was set to attend was a test of the Orion spacecraft’s “launch abort system,” which makes sure that there is an escape route for astronauts in case of a catastrophic failure during liftoff.
She said that after she saw that it was a test, she “wasn’t sure what to expect,” but over the course of the experience, she gained some valuable insights.
In a blog post she wrote after the trip, she explained that NASA is “teaching us all how to be good earthlings.”
She said that people can learn a lot about mistakes and how to prepare for them from the test.
“Have a Launch Abort System for your words and actions,” she wrote.
Love said that watching the launch was an incredible experience, and she plans to tell her students about the experience when she gets back into the classroom at the end of the month.
This isn’t the first time that Love has shared some out-of-this-world experiences with students at H.L. Suverkrup, though.
Three years ago, she introduced Principal Trish Valentin to another NASA program where people can register to get their names etched microscopically onto a silicon chip inside of a rover headed to Mars.
And soon enough the whole school got their “boarding passes” and their names were enroute to the red planet.
She also wrote a letter to NASA that landed her school a live video call with the folks on the International Space Station, where kids got to ask astronauts questions and learn what life orbiting the earth is like.
“It just seemed like the whole school was floating around the earth for the next three days, because it was just incredible,” Love said.
Valentin said that it was the “experience of a lifetime.”
Love’s passion for space and persistence when it comes to getting kids excited about the subject has had a big effect on the school, too, according to Valentin.
“As you walk around campus you can hear students talking about NASA and astronomy,” she said. “Teachers are incorporating space into their lessons.
“This has helped our students to see a world outside of Yuma.”
And even though astronomy and space has been a passion of Love’s for a long time, she said that introducing it to students has brought a whole new meaning to the subject.
“I think that, at least for the students that I’ve worked with, because so many of them had never really looked up at the stars at night and never had that experience, I started to develop this feeling like I just want to give them a reason to look up,” Love said. “I want to give them a reason to look up and dream.”