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UPDATED: NASA and Change the Equation Connect Students to STEM

On Tuesday NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the home of Mars Rover Curiosity, and Change the Equation hosted a live, interactive webcast focused on connecting students to STEM careers and helping them explore the STEM challenges they face.

The webcast featured actress and singer Keke Palmer as the webcast's "Mission Control Host," Dr. Linda P. Rosen, the CEO of Change the Equation, Bobak Ferdowsi, the flight director, of the Mars Rover Curiosity, and students from the Engineering and Environmental Science Academy at John Muir High School in Pasadena, California.

Viewers visited STEM-related companies likeRolls Royce and Glaxo Smith Kline and met scientists and engineerswho are working on a variety of projects—everything from aerodynamics tocreating drugs that battle diseases. They also visited companies you might notexpect would be hubs of STEM activity—like Viacom, whose live events supervisor, Lanette Hines, talked about the science and tech that goes into producing liveprogramming for networks like MTV. After all, you need plenty of tech know-how toensure you get a satellite transmission to reach the world's televisions, no matter how bad theweather may be.

Ferdowsi shared details of Curiosity’s design and challenged viewers to take his job and become rover engineers.The task: Designing a vehicle so it can navigate over hard surfaces, softsand, and over large rocks. The student participants from John Muir High quickly discovered that figuring that out isn’t the easiest thing, but they certainly brought theircreativity to the task.

Indeed, as Palmer pointed out at the end, the creativity andSTEM-based thinking that went into designing Curiosity is the foundation foreverything we do. “It’s bigger than just schoolwork or after school clubs,”Palmer said.

To keep student exploration of STEM and the careers that arerelevant to it going, check out iONFuture,Change the Equation’s new STEM career exploration game.

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