In the afterschool world, program leaders and staff nurture the whole child, providing them a safe space to learn, grow, and connect to others.
In the afterschool space, we see many kids making daily acts of bravery – some extending themselves simply by showing up, participating, or trying something new. Through youth development, kids are encouraged to dare greatly to be themselves, come into themselves, and develop their passions.
In the world of space exploration, we also “dare mighty things” as we send robots – and one day, humans – to venture further out into the solar system and beyond. Here at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory where I work, for example, we have landed rovers on the planet Mars – several inside a pyramid of airbags, and one using a “sky crane” – a hovering rocket that lowers the rover gently to the ground. It takes a healthy dose of wonder and creativity to dream up those ideas, put them into reality, and actually pull it off.
Our missions are similar, really, NASA and afterschool.
In developing afterschool programs to share NASA’s exploration of space, I’m passionate about the crossroads of our work that emphasizes self-efficacy and empowerment; that nurtures wonder, engagement, curiosity, and exploration; that encourages growth to make positive contribution and a personal connection to something; and that honors each person’s experience and contributions.
When leaders and kids have fun with programs in STEM & space exploration, it helps them to get outside what they might see everyday, expands their growth opportunities and their realm of possibilities, and grows their skills of observation and awareness of the world around them. Aren’t all these wonderful skills for life, as well as space exploration?
Ever since I can remember, I’ve had a love for the sky and the wonder it inspires, both day and night. I also love mentoring others, encouraging their growth to take their own bold and meaningful steps. It feels inspirational to me, gives me meaning – it feels like a mighty thing.
Today, our boss provided us a Persian New Year’s breakfast, where I enjoyed yogurt, rose petal jam, pita bread, and cucumbers.
Author Profile: @leslielowes