10 Things Not to Miss at WonderWorks Myrtle Beach
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family of four look at WonderWorks museum exhibit

MYRTLE BEACH, South Carolina — As the summer temperatures heat up, many families will be looking for ways to keep cool. They will also want to entertain, make memories and keep their kids active. One good way to do that is to visit WonderWorks Myrtle Beach, where parents can find four levels of indoor nonstop fun, offering plenty of opportunities for people of all ages.

“Most people are familiar with the outside of our building, but they are not familiar with what goes on inside it,” says Robert Stinnett, regional manager at WonderWorks. “The neat thing is that what we offer on the inside is every bit as interesting and unique. We are here for all ages to experience laughter, fun and joy by diving into history, science and releasing energy with our interactive exhibits!”

Here are 10 things not to miss at WonderWorks Myrtle Beach:

  1. Climb. Hit up the ropes course, where guests can test their endurance and locomotor skills as they climb over 28 different obstacles and physical activities in this 3-story indoor course.
  2. Throw. Take your chance at virtual sports, where you can find out what it’s like to pitch to a Major League Baseball player or throw a touchdown pass 50 yards to an NFL player. Virtual Sports allows you to test your athletic skills on a baseball, football, and soccer field.
  3. Ride. Take a seat within the virtual coaster with the ability to turn 360° in every direction. Hold on to your seats, while experiencing virtual physics! You can also feel the sensation of weightlessness like in outer space on the Astronaut Training Gyro Challenge.
  4. Play. Hit up the sandbox and bubble lab! Explore the depths of the ocean, a Jurassic landscape, and a wildlife safari in an interactive sandbox. Interact with various creatures with your hands and mold the sand by building mountains, volcanoes and much more! You can also create bubbles the size of basketballs, and even make a bubble big enough for you to fit inside.
  5. Learn. Test your knowledge about our world’s natural disasters. Show what you know and more from such categories as wild weather, quakes and blazes, manmade catastrophes and extreme disasters.
  6. Imagine. Enter a new dimension of reality and explore the unknown. Visit the Dr. Seuss Taxidermy, where the famous author’s creations come to life. Discover how perception and perspective are used in over 35 exhibits located throughout the Far Out Art Gallery where the unexplainable will come to life and the unusual will be the norm.
  7. Thrill. Enjoy the 12-seat theater that takes guests on an amazing adventure that transcends times, space, and imagination by combining the 3D film with special effects and full motion. Now playing 5 different movies: Cosmic Coaster-Mild, Wild Wild West- Moderate, Great Wall of China-Moderate, Dino Safari- Wild or Canyon Coaster-Wild.
  8. Adrenaline. Take the zipline challenge, where you will soar 50 feet above water and 1,000 feet between towers. This features a constant tension system, which ensures participants a smooth “zip” with intense fun.
  9. Extreme. Check out 360 Bikes, where you will buckle into your bike and start pedaling. You will try to generate enough power to spin a complete 360-degree revolution right back to where you started.
  10. Interact. Get interactive with laser tag! This family fun game combines innovative technology to provide you with a one-of-a-kind interactive experience. The object is to outplay, outlast and outshoot the other players.

“WonderWorks is happy to support energy in motion – we want our guests to feel like each time they come to us, not only are they having a blast, they are using their mind to learn and interact physically with our many hands-on exhibits,” added Stinnett. “Make some fun family memories right here at WonderWorks Myrtle Beach.”

WonderWorks in Myrtle Beach offers 50,000 square feet of “edu-tainment” opportunities, showcasing itself as an amusement park for the mind. They offer over 100 hands-on exhibits covering natural disasters, space discovery, an imagination lab, a physical challenge zone, a far out art gallery and a light and sound zone. WonderWorks is open daily from 10 a.m. until 11:30 p.m. For more information, log onto its site: wonderworksonline.com/myrtle-beach/.

About WonderWorks

WonderWorks, a science focused indoor amusement park, combines education and entertainment. With over 100 hands-on exhibits – there is something unique and challenging for all ages. Feel the power of 84mph hurricane–force winds in the Hurricane Shack. Make huge, life–sized bubbles in the Bubble Lab. Get the NASA treatment in our Astronaut Training Gyro and experience zero gravity. Nail it by lying on the death–defying Bed of Nails. Conquer your fear of heights on our indoor Glow-In-The-Dark Ropes Course. Don’t miss Soar + Explore, a WonderWorks sister attraction featuring an over water zipline and outdoor ropes challenge course guaranteed to get your heart pumping from total excitement. WonderWorks also hosts birthday parties, group outings and special events seasonally. Open daily from 10 a.m. until 11:30 p.m. wonderworksonline.com/myrtle-beach/.

First Latina to go to space announces bilingual STEAM board book series
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Dr Ellen ochoa smiling and posing in front of a gray background for the camera. She is wearing a blue button up. Ochoa is writing a STEAM board book series

By The Downey Patriot

Lil’ Libros Publishing has acquired world rights to a bilingual five-board book STEAM series, Dr. Ochoa’s Stellar World, researched and written by Dr. Ellen Ochoa, American engineer who became the first Latina woman to go to space.

Inspired by her experiences as a NASA astronaut, Dr. Ochoa’s books will celebrate the joy of scientific curiosity, the fundamentals of STEAM topics, and the American Latino experience for the youngest of readers.

“I wish I had known when I was little that science [or STEAM] is all about curiosity and creativity,” said Dr. Ochoa. “Those skills come naturally to young kids, and I hope this series engages kids and parents alike, in both English and Spanish, about STEAM concepts and excites them about exploring the world they inhabit.”

“We are excited to work alongside Dr. Ochoa to help create an environment where our littlest readers are introduced to STEAM concepts confidently and in two languages,” said Patty Rodriguez, publisher at Lil’ Libros. “Becoming a scientist is no longer just a dream for our children, it is a possibility and Dr. Ellen Ochoa is an example of that.”

“It is an honor to welcome Dr. Ellen Ochoa to the Lil’ Libros family. Bringing bilingual STEAM topics to children will open a world of possibilities,” added Ariana Stein, Lil’ Libros co-founder. “We are confident that Dr. Ochoa’s Stellar World will inspire curiosity and leave a lasting impact on children.”

Publication for the first book, Dr. Ochoa’s Stellar World: We Are All Scientists, is set for August 30, 2022.

Lil’ Libros is a bilingual children’s book publisher based out of Los Angeles. In a world lacking bilingual books for children, two best friends-turned-mothers – Patty Rodriguez, of Downey, and Ariana Stein – began their mission to celebrate the duality of the American Latino experience through picture board books and now hardcovers.

Click here to read the full article on The Downey Patriot.

NASA Invites Media to Launch of New Mega-Moon Rocket and Spacecraft
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Mega Moon Mission. An aerial view of Launch Complex 39B with Exploration Ground Systems’ mobile launcher for the Artemis 1 mission on the pad. The mobile launcher, atop crawler-transporter 2, made its final solo trek from the Vehicle Assembly Building on June 27, 2019, and arrived on the surface of pad B on June 28, 2019, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The mobile launcher will remain at the pad over the summer, undergoing final testing and checkouts. Its next roll to the pad will be with the agency’s Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft in preparation for the launch of Artemis 1.

By NASA

Media accreditation is now open for launch and prelaunch activities related to NASA’s Artemis I mission, the first mission in exploration systems built for crew that will travel around the Moon since Apollo. Approximately a week’s worth of events will lead up to the launch of the agency’s Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft, targeted for no earlier than March 2022 from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The uncrewed Artemis I mission will launch from Kennedy’s Launch Complex 39B and is the first integrated flight test of NASA’s Artemis deep space exploration systems. The first in a series of increasingly complex missions, the mission will provide a foundation for human deep space exploration and demonstrate NASA’s commitment and capability to establish a long-term presence at the Moon and beyond.

NASA will set an official target launch date after a successful wet dress rehearsal test – one of the final tests before launch involving fuel loaded into the rocket – currently planned for late February.

U.S. media must apply by 4 p.m. Monday, Feb. 7, and international media without U.S. citizenship must apply by 4 p.m. Monday, Jan. 31. A copy of NASA’s media accreditation policy is online.

The agency continues to monitor developments related to the coronavirus pandemic, and Kennedy will grant access to only a limited number of media to protect the health and safety of media and employees. Due to COVID-19 safety restrictions at Kennedy, international media coming from overseas must follow quarantine requirements.

NASA will follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the agency’s chief health and medical officer and will immediately communicate any updates that may affect media access for this launch.

Media who would like to bring large vehicles (satellite trucks, microwave trucks, etc.) or any manner of infrastructure (scaffolding, stages, etc.) must notify the Kennedy media team by filling out a forthcoming survey. The survey will be distributed to media once the accreditation window for this launch has closed.

All parties requesting to bring stages, scaffolding, or raised platforms will be required to submit plans, including access limitations/controls, height/width/length, configuration, capacity, and load ratings of the elevated structure and any training, inspection, or other pertinent requirements.

Click here to read the full article on NASA.

Microbes in The Ocean Depths Can Make Oxygen Without Sun. This Discovery Could Be Huge
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Microbes in The Ocean Depths Can Make Oxygen Without Sun. This Discovery Could Be Huge. Octopus floating in the ocean

By DAVID NIELD, Science Alert

For most of life on Earth, oxygen is essential, and sunlight is usually needed to produce that oxygen. But in an exciting twist, researchers have caught a common, ocean-dwelling microbe breaking all the rules.

Scientists have found that a microbe called Nitrosopumilus maritimus and several of its cousins, called ammonia oxidizing archaea (AOA), are able to survive in dark, oxygen-depleted environments by producing oxygen on their own. They do so using a biological process that hasn’t been seen before.

While it’s previously been established that these microbes can live in environments where oxygen is scarce, what hasn’t been clear is what they get up to there – and how they’re staying alive for as long as they do. That was the inspiration behind this new research.

“These guys are really abundant in the oceans, where they play an important role in the nitrogen cycle,” says microbiologist Beate Kraft, from the University of Southern Denmark.

“For this they need oxygen, so it has been a long-standing puzzle why they are also very abundant in waters where there is no oxygen. We thought, do they just hang out there with no function? Are they some kind of ghost cells?”

Collect a bucket of seawater out of the ocean, and every fifth cell will be one of these organisms – that’s how common they are. Here, the researchers removed the microbes from their natural habitat and transferred them to the lab.

The team wanted to take a closer look at what would happen when all the available oxygen was gone, and there was no sunlight to produce new oxygen. The same scenario happens when N. maritimus moves from oxygen-rich to oxygen-depleted waters.

What they found was something unexpected: the microorganisms produced their own oxygen to create nitrite, with nitrogen gas (dinitrogen) as a by-product.

“We saw how they used up all the oxygen in the water, and then to our surprise, within minutes, oxygen levels started increasing again,” says geobiologist Don Canfield, from the University of Southern Denmark. “That was very exciting.”

At the moment, the researchers aren’t certain how the microbes are pulling off this trick, and the amount of oxygen produced appears to be relatively small (just enough for their own survival) – but it does look to be different to the few oxygen-without-sunlight processes that we already know about.

What the new pathway does show is that the oxygen production from N. maritimus gets linked to its production of gaseous nitrogen. The microbes are somehow converting ammonia (NH3) into nitrite (NO2-) – a process they use to metabolize energy – in an oxygen-depleted environment.

In turn, this requires them to make their own oxygen, which the team detected traces of, along with the byproduct of nitrogen gas (N2).

Click here to read the full article on Science Alert.

Study Confirms Southern Ocean Is Absorbing Carbon – Important Buffer for Greenhouse Gas Emissions
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map of earth showing c2 and green house gas levels

By Sofie Bates, SciTech Daily

New observations from research aircraft indicate that the Southern Ocean absorbs more carbon from the atmosphere than it releases, confirming that it is a strong carbon sink and an important buffer for the effects of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions. Previous research and modeling had left researchers uncertain about how much atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) gets absorbed by the chilly waters circling the Antarctic continent.

In a NASA-supported study published in Science in December 2021, scientists used aircraft observations of atmospheric carbon dioxide to “show that the annual net flux of carbon into the ocean south of 45°S is large, with stronger summertime uptake and less wintertime outgassing than other recent observations have indicated.” They found that the waters in the region absorbed roughly 0.53 more petagrams (530 million metric tons) of carbon than they released each year.

“Airborne measurements show a drawdown of carbon dioxide in the lower atmosphere over the Southern Ocean surface in summer, indicating carbon uptake by the ocean,” explained Matthew Long, lead author of the study and a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). Aircraft observations were collected from 2009 to 2018 during three field experiments, including NASA’s Atmospheric Tomography Mission (ATom) in 2016.

The animation and still image on this page show areas where carbon dioxide was absorbed (blue) and emitted (red) by the global ocean in 2012. (Jump to 1:00 to focus on the Southern Hemisphere.) The data come from the ECCO-Darwin Global Ocean Biogeochemistry Model. The research was funded by the National Science Foundation, NASA, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

When human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide enter the atmosphere, some of the gas is absorbed by the ocean, a process that can slightly slow carbon accumulation in the atmosphere and the global temperature increases that go with it. Part of this is due to upwelling of cold water from the deep ocean. Once at the surface, colder, nutrient-rich water absorbs CO2 from the atmosphere—usually with the help of photosynthesizing organisms called phytoplankton—before sinking again.

Computer models suggest that 40 percent of the human-produced CO2 in the ocean worldwide was originally absorbed from the atmosphere into the Southern Ocean, making it one of the most important carbon sinks on our planet. But measuring the flux, or exchange, of CO2 from the air to the sea has been challenging.

Many previous studies of Southern Ocean carbon flux relied heavily on measurements of ocean acidity—which increases when seawater absorbs CO2—taken by floating, drifting instruments. The new research used aircraft to measure changes in the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere over the ocean.

“You can’t fool the atmosphere,” Long said. “While measurements taken from the ocean surface and from land are important, they are too sparse to provide a reliable picture of air-sea carbon flux. The atmosphere, however, can integrate fluxes over large expanses.”

Click here to read the full article on SciTech Daily.

Scientists just discovered a massive sea predator from the Triassic period
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digital render of the largest predator to ever live, looks similar to a whale with a giant long mouth, believed to live in the triassic period

By Joshua Hawkins, Yahoo!

According to a new study, scientists believe the largest animals to ever live, lived in the sea. In fact, a new discovery has led them to believe that one of the largest animals was a Triassic period predator that was somewhat similar to modern-day whales.

Based on the new discovery, researchers believe that a 244-million-year-old fossil would have rivaled current cetaceans. The animal in question, an ichthyosaur, existed 8 million years after the first ichthyosaurs, at the most. Because of its massive size compared to other ichthyosaurs, scientists believe its evolution was expedited in some way.

The new study, which was published in Science on December 24, focuses heavily on the discovery of the fossil in Fossil Hill, Nevada. It also focuses on how the creature that left the fossil behind could have grown as large as it did. Based on the discovery, scientists believe that the ichthyosaur that they found had a two-meter-long skull. They also believe that it was a completely new species of Cymbospondylus.

Researchers say that this is the largest known tetrapod of the Triassic period, on land or in the sea. It’s also the first in a series of massive ocean giants that would go on to rule the sea. They also believe that the creature was able to grow to the size it did as quickly as it did by eating ammonoids. These small, yet abundant prey, would have helped the ichthyosaur grow exponentially faster. Because of the time period, scientists feel the end-Permian mass extinction helped provide such an abundant source of ammonoids.

The discoveries they’ve found have also led scientists to believe that this Triassic period predator evolved much earlier than whales. Scientists currently consider whales to be the largest animals on Earth.

There is still a lot that we don’t know about the evolution of marine animals. Scientists may be able to learn more from the discovery of this new ichthyosaur. Specifically, they may learn more about the evolutionary track that marine life followed. This particle Triassic period predator lived millions of years ago. However, its fossil could be a new door of understanding we haven’t previously been able to achieve. And, it might not be the only one out there.

Click here to read the full article on Yahoo!.

Letter From the Editor — The Power of Act II
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Leland Melvin Cover

By Tawanah Reeves-Ligon

The beauty of the STEAM fields is that they represent industries where growth and change are constant. STEAM is all about repurposing and redefining both ourselves and the world around us for a better tomorrow.

Oftentimes, the best part of the story comes in the second act.

For American engineer and STEAM advocate Leland D. Melvin, this couldn’t be truer. Melvin was a star on his high school and collegiate football teams before beating the odds to join the NFL as a member of both the Dallas Cowboys and Detroit Lions.

However, he would beat the odds again after a career-ending injury would catapult him into his Act II as an astronaut and Associate Administrator for Education for NASA.

Now, he’s an advocate for diversity and inclusion in the STEAM fields. “The biggest part of succeeding in a NASA culture is to be a team member,” he said. “Just like sports and mathematics. That’s why diversity is so important.”

Learn more about Leland Melvin’s story on page 26.

If you’re thinking about your own second act, check out which careers are in high demand this year on page 38.

Tawanah Reeves-Ligon
Tawanah Reeves-Ligon, Editor Diversity in STEAM Magazine

Trying to grow or save your small business post-pandemic? Learn the five business strategies that can help you overcome COVID-19 on page 66.

If the next part of your story is getting more education, find the best STEAM scholarships on page 80.

Finally, check out how researchers are planning to combat climate change by giving critically endangered and extinct animals (like the Woolly Mammoth!) a second chance in the wild on page 16.

It’s rare to get things perfectly right the first time around. At Diversity in STEAM, we encourage you to continue pressing forward, so that your next act is always your best act.

A dinosaur embryo has been found inside a fossilized egg. Here’s what that means.
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dinosaur embryo Reconstruction of a close-to-hatching oviraptorosaur egg.

BY Caitlin O’Kane, CBS News

A well-preserved dinosaur embryo has been found inside a fossilized egg. The fossilized dinosaur embryo came from Ganzhou, Jiangxi Province in southern China and was acquired by researchers in 2000.

Researchers at Yingliang Group, a company that mines stones, suspected it contained egg fossils, but put it in storage for 10 years, according to a news release. When construction began on Yingliang Stone Natural History Museum, boxes of unearthed fossils were sorted through.

“Museum staff identified them as dinosaur eggs and saw some bones on the broken cross section of one of the eggs,” Lida Xing of China University of Geosciences, Beijing, said in a news release. A embryo was found hidden within, which they named “Baby Yingliang.”

The embryo is that of the bird-like oviraptorosaurs, part of the theropod group. Theropod means “beast foot,” but theropod feet usually resembled those of birds. Birds are descended from one lineage of small theropods.

In studying the embryo, researchers found the dinosaur took on a distinctive tucking posture before hatching, which had been considered unique to birds. The study is published in the iScience journal.

Researchers say this behavior may have evolved through non-avian theropods. “Most known non-avian dinosaur embryos are incomplete with skeletons disarticulated,” said Waisum Maof the University of Birmingham, U.K. “We were surprised to see this embryo beautifully preserved inside a dinosaur egg, lying in a bird-like posture. This posture had not been recognized in non-avian dinosaurs before.”

While fossilized dinosaur eggs have been found during the last 100 years, discovering a well-preserved embryo is very rare, the researchers said in the release.

The embryo’s posture was not previously seen in non-avian dinosaur, which is “especially notable because it’s reminiscent of a late-stage modern bird embryo.”

Click here to read the full article on CBS News.

A viral image of a Black fetus is highlighting the need for diversity in medical illustrations
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medical illustration of a Black fetus in the womb.

By Harmeet Kaur, CNN

At first glance, the image looks like a standard drawing that could easily be found in the pages of a medical textbook or on the walls of a doctor’s office.

But what sets apart the illustration of a fetus in the womb that recently captured the attention of the internet is a simple, yet crucial, detail: its darker skin tone.

The image, created by Nigerian medical student and illustrator Chidiebere Ibe, struck a chord with countless people on social media, many of whom said that they had never seen a Black fetus or a Black pregnant woman depicted before. It also brought attention to a larger issue at hand: A lack of diversity in medical illustrations.

(While most fetuses are red in color — newborns come out dark pink or red and only gradually develop the skin tone they will have for life — the medical illustration is intended to represent patients who aren’t used to seeing their skin tones in such images.)

Ibe said in an interview with HuffPost UK that he didn’t expect to receive such an overwhelming response — his fetus illustration was one of many such images he’s created as a medical illustrator, most of which depict Black skin tones. But it underscored the importance of a mission he’s long been committed to.
“The whole purpose was to keep talking about what I’m passionate about — equity in healthcare — and also to show the beauty of Black people,” he told the publication. “We don’t only need more representation like this — we need more people willing to create representation like this.”

CNN reached out to Ibe for comment, but he did not expand on the topic further.
Ni-Ka Ford, diversity committee chair for the Association of Medical Illustrators, said that the organization was grateful for Ibe’s illustration.
“Along with the importance of representation of Black and Brown bodies in medical illustration, his illustration also serves to combat another major flaw in the medical system, that being the staggering disproportionate maternal mortality rate of Black women in this country,” she wrote in an email to CNN.

What medical illustration is
Medical illustrations have been used for thousands of years to record and communicate procedures, pathologies and other facets of medical knowledge, from the ancient Egyptians to Leonardo da Vinci. Science and art are combined to translate complex information into visuals that can communicate concepts to students, practitioners and the public. These images are used not just in textbooks and scientific journals, but also films, presentations and other mediums.

There are fewer than 2,000 trained medical illustrators in the world, according to the Association of Medical Illustrators. With only a handful of accredited medical illustration programs in North America, which tend to be expensive and admit few students, the field has historically been dominated by people who are White and male — which, in turn, means the bodies depicted have usually been so, too.

Click here to read the full article on CNN.

Leland Melvin’s Making Space Inclusive
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featured cover story Leland Melvin is pictured in a collage of photos with crewmembers and reading books to children

Interview and Story By Brady Rhoades

On a day he’ll never forget, astronaut Leland Melvin saw 24 sunsets in 24 hours. He flew over his hometown of Lynchburg, Va., and thought of his family, his modest and healthy upbringing; seven minutes later he was over Paris.

It wasn’t lost on him that he was African-American and his crew members included women, Russians, people from all walks of life.

“It made me contemplate my existence,” he said. “My faith was stronger, more magnified, and doing it with people we used to fight against.”

An Unusual Route
Melvin, 57, and, in his post-astronaut career, a prominent advocate for STEAM, did not take the usual route to space. He was a wide receiver in the NFL, but he suffered a career-ending injury and Act II of a remarkable life journey was on.

Since childhood, he’d been interested in engineering, though he was known for his exploits on the gridiron. He starred at his high school, at University of Richmond and, in his short stint in the pros, for the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys.

Along the way, he earned a bachelor of science degree in chemistry and a master’s degree in materials science engineering.

It’s been said that luck occurs when preparation meets opportunity.

Melvin’s post-NFL opportunity came at a job fair. A recruiter tracked him down and told him, “You’re coming to work at NASA.”

A Team Player

This was in the 1980s. Melvin said his mental image of NASA involved white men with crew cuts. He wasn’t far off. “Historically, NASA has been myopically focused on a certain mindset,” he said. He became part of a sea-change in the world’s most esteemed space organization.

“The biggest part of succeeding in a NASA culture is to be a team member,” he said. “Just like sports and mathematics. That’s why diversity is so important. You look at things in a different way. To work at NASA, you have to allow yourself to be heard.

Reading Is Fundamental and NASA teamed up for an African American History Month celebration. Leland Melvin, a former astronaut and NASA's Associate Administrator for Education shares his experiences travelling in space and read-aloud the book, The Moon Over Star by author Dianna Hutts Aston in Washington, D.C.
Reading Is Fundamental and NASA teamed up for an African American History Month celebration. Leland Melvin, a former astronaut and NASA’s Associate Administrator for Education shares his experiences travelling in space and read-aloud the book, The Moon Over Star by author Dianna Hutts Aston in Washington, D.C. Photo Credit: (Photo by Marvin Joseph/ The Washington Post via Getty Images)

People sometimes don’t speak up because they’ve been marginalized.”

Melvin started his career in aerospace working in the Nondestructive Evaluation Sciences Branch at NASA Langley Research Center in 1989. In 1994, he was selected to lead the Vehicle Health Monitoring team for the NASA/Lockheed Martin X-33 Reusable Launch Vehicle program. In 1996, he co-designed and monitored construction of an optical nondestructive evaluation facility capable of producing in-line fiber optic sensors.

He became an astronaut in 1998, after sustaining a traumatic ear injury during underwater training exercises and, eventually, being cleared to fly despite his lifelong impairment.

He flew two missions – 565 hours of total log time – on the Space Shuttle Atlantis as a mission specialist on STS-122, and as mission specialist 1 on STS-129. The STS-122 mission was accomplished in 12 days, 18 hours, 21 minutes and 40 seconds, and traveled 5.2 million miles in 203 Earth orbits. The STS-129 mission was completed in 10 days, 19 hours, 16 minutes and 13 seconds, traveling 4.5 million miles in 171 orbits.

Associate Administrator for Education and Astronaut Leland Melvin talks with school children during the “Build the Future” activity where students created their vision of the future in space with LEGO bricks and elements inside a tent that was set up on the launch viewing area at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla.

While in space, he completed a football pass to another astronaut. He also took hundreds of jaw-dropping photographs.

Mission Possible
After hanging up his space boots, he was appointed head of NASA Education and served as the co-chair on the White House’s Federal Coordination in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM} Education Task Force, developing the nation’s five-year STEM education plan. Leland was the United States’ representative and chair of the International Space Education Board, a global collaboration on learning about space.

He uses his life story as an athlete, astronaut, scientist, engineer, photographer and musician to help inspire the next generation of explorers to pursue Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics (STEAM} careers.

The STS-122 and Expedition 16 crewmembers gather for a photo in the International Space Station.
The STS-122 and Expedition 16 crewmembers gather for a photo in the International Space Station. Photo Credit: NASA

One of his mantras is, “Data over bias.” Bias separates people. Data-sharing brings them together and leads to advances in STEAM and in society.

Space exploration, he said, is about “going someplace you haven’t been and getting over your biases.” It’s a universal win-win, or what he calls “Mission Possible.” And Melvin trusts it will lead to even bigger things. “We’re not going to have a colony on Mars, but we are going to have a human outpost,” he said, preferring the latter term.

Starring in the NFL and flying in outer space are two colossal endeavors. He’s the only human being to do both. He’s also authored two books, “Chasing Space: An Astronaut’s Story of Grit, Grace, and Second Chances” and “Chasing Space: Young Reader’s Edition.” He’s an accomplished photographer (visit LelandMelvin.com for images}.

On the same website, he gives kid-friendly lessons on, among other things, how to build a rocket racer and how to dissolve the coating on your candy in a really cool way.

He plays the piano in his spare time. And he loves his dogs, who appear on the cover of both his books.

Space shuttle Atlantis crew mission specialists Leland Melvin (R), Rex Walheim (2nd R), European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Hans Schlegel (2nd L) of Germany and ESA astronaut Leopold Eyharts (L) of France outside the Operations and Checkout building on February 7, 2008 as they board the Astrovan to launch pad 39-A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla.
Space shuttle Atlantis crew mission specialists, including Leland Melvin (R), outside the Operations and Checkout building  as they board the Astrovan to launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla. Photo Credit: (STAN HONDA/AFP via Getty Images)

During his interview with Diversity in STEAM Magazine, he was busy feeding his dogs. We asked him what this world- renowned astronaut, explorer, athlete, photographer and teacher has learned from his pups.

“Presence,” he said. “We need to live like our dogs. Chill. Get something to eat. Yawn. Smile. Be like your dog.”

Speaking of presence, he drives home the importance of looking up and around as much as looking down at your devices. Imagine, for instance, an astronaut so fixated on the instruments inside the vessel that he or she forgets to appreciate the majesty of outer space. On a recent hiking trip, Melvin witnessed several young adults busy on their digital instruments.

“Right out there in nature!” he laughed. “There’s a balance between tech and digging your feet into Mother Earth.

The woman saving seahorses from ‘annihilation fishing’
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red seahorse floating in ocean

By Hazel Pfeifer, CNN

Every day, thousands of fishing boats around the world drag huge weighted nets across the seafloor, ensnaring everything in their wake and destroying marine habitats.

Almost one quarter of the world’s annual catch is from this bottom trawling — a process that has been described by scientists as “bulldozing” the ocean floor. The method can be traced back to the 14th century but technological advances in the latter half of the 20th century have allowed it to extend its reach from shallow waters to the deep sea.

Amanda Vincent, a professor at the Institute of Oceans and Fisheries at the University of British Columbia, in Canada, has witnessed the destruction of bottom trawling over three decades researching seahorses across the world.

“Consider your favorite forest or hillside and imagine helicopters dropping heavily weighted wires and clear cutting everything in their path, plowing into the soil, but also taking out every bee, butterfly, bird, bush and bear,” she says. “We wouldn’t allow that on land, not for a minute, but this is what’s happening in the ocean all day, every day.”

“It’s just devastating and it wreaks ecological havoc,” Vincent says. “It’s annihilation fishing, pure and simple, and it has to stop.”

Project Seahorse, a non-profit founded by Vincent in 1996, contributed to getting marine fish recognized by the International Union for Conservation of Nature — a major milestone in protecting seahorses and other marine life. Vincent was also instrumental in uncovering a huge global trade in seahorses — a popular ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine — and her campaigning led to global restrictions on the seahorse trade. Her next crusade is bottom trawling.

More than 70 million seahorses are caught every year by bottom trawling or other fishing methods, according to Project Seahorse, making fishing the biggest threat to the species.

“Most trawl boats only catch one or two seahorses per boat per night (as bycatch). It sounds like nothing,” she says, but continues “countries like Thailand or India export five million seahorses a year, (so) it tells you something about the scale of those bottom trawl operations, because that’s the main way they catch seahorses.”

Impact on the oceans
A 2018 study estimated that around 19 million tons of fish and invertebrates end up in the nets of tens of thousands of bottom trawlers worldwide every year. Other research has found that bottom trawling accounts for nearly 60% of fisheries discards, with unwanted catch thrown back into the ocean.

For the past seven decades, bottom trawling has wasted 437 million tons of fish, leading to an estimated loss of revenue of $560 billion, according to another study.

“It has made a tremendous impact on the world’s oceans,” says Juan Mayorga, a marine scientist at the University of California, Santa Barbara. “For each kilogram of shrimp, you could get up to 25 kilograms of incidental catch … There’s no such thing as a selective bottom trawl.”

As well as threatening fish stocks, a recent paper Mayorga co-authored studied the movements of over 20,000 bottom trawling vessels worldwide and found that by dredging the carbon-rich sediment on the ocean floor, they had a carbon footprint comparable to that of global aviation.

The ocean absorbs a third of the carbon emissions in the atmosphere, making the seafloor the largest carbon repository on the planet.

“The first meter of the sea floor stores twice as much carbon as all of the terrestrial soils combined.” says Mayorga. “So it’s a huge, huge, huge reservoir of carbon.”

Click here to read the full article on CNN.

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  1. City Career Fair
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  2. AEC Next Technology Expo & Conference, International Lidar Mapping Forum, and SPAR 3D Expo & Conference
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