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Brief: Former Astronaut Comes to Churchill Road

Churchill Road fifth and sixth grade girls in the GEMS club take advantage of the opportunity to have a photograph taken with former shuttle astronaut Dr. Mary Cleave. Dr. Cleave presented each of the girls with a sticker representing the crew patch that she wore on one of her shuttle flights.

Churchill Road fifth and sixth grade girls in the GEMS club take advantage of the opportunity to have a photograph taken with former shuttle astronaut Dr. Mary Cleave. Dr. Cleave presented each of the girls with a sticker representing the crew patch that she wore on one of her shuttle flights. Photo by Kim Moran

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Churchill Road students Amanda Riddle and Maddie Faust ask former NASA astronaut Dr. Mary Cleave some questions one on one at the conclusion of her presentation.

Churchill Road’s GEMS (Girls Excelling in Math and Science) hosted a very special guest speaker at their Dec. 12 meeting. CRS parent Jane Riddle arranged for former NASA astronaut Dr. Mary Cleave, a veteran of two space flights on the shuttle Atlantis, to come and speak with the students about her experiences as an astronaut, the opportunities available to girls who excel in science. She encouraged the students to devote as much time as they could to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) classes in school to pursue outside opportunities in robotics and engineering, as available. When club sponsors Corinne Reilly and Ronnie Raju asked why she thought science was so important, Dr. Cleave responded:

“It’s so much fun. You get to work on interesting things on teams. It’s all about working with other people, collaboration and solving problems.”

Sarah Rice, Churchill sixth grader, enjoyed the speaker and said, “Before [Dr. Cleave’s visit], being an astronaut did not really appeal to me, but her visit to Churchill Road made me think about it much more.”

On a lighter note, when asked if the food was good, Dr. Cleave said, “It’s not great. You don’t go to space for the food,” but the view was. She said it was “amazing to sit in the shuttle and look down over the United States every 7.5 minutes.”