The Artemis Generation will live like no other on Earth, primarily because it will leave Earth like no other generation before it. But as it prepares to visit the Moon, Mars, and beyond, the Artemis Generation will also become our home’s essential caretakers. What they learn about leaving Earth will be instrumental in improving it. So we must re-energize the generation through STEM education, which means teaching them to explore like astronauts.
In 1969, the Apollo 11 mission to the Moon galvanized a generation of kids toward science. Today, NASA and others seek to inspire an Artemis Generation of scientists through the next wave of space exploration. It’s a vital mission because the U.S. must strengthen STEM education to enable exploration beyond Earth, while at the same time increasing capability on Earth to remain competitive in a changing world.
Studies show that the U.S. lags behind other industrialized nations in STEM education progress while the Pentagon calls STEM education a national security issue. The forthcoming Artemis missions provide an opportunity to re-engage kids with science through their love of space.
A 2019 Lego survey, conducted to commemorate Apollo 11’s 50th anniversary, found that 86% of kids ages 8–12 are interested in space and 90% want to learn more. How do we harness that interest as we return to the Moon? A panel provided some unique insight at the 2022 International Space Station Research & Development Conference.
Inspire All Through STEM
The ISS R&D Conference in July convened policy experts and science communicators to examine how educators can use space exploration to stimulate STEM interest. Inspiration is easy, said panelist Quincy Brown, Senior Policy Advisor at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, because space unites us in wonder. “The hard part,” Brown added, “is the preparation.”
The panel said educators must use space as the gateway to learning. We should channel kids interested in space exploration into mathematics, biology, and physics. Panelist Alex Dainis, a geneticist who owns Helicase Media, learned that NASA astronauts had sequenced DNA in space by listening to an NPR story. “I had no idea biology happened in space,” she said.
STEM education also must be more equitable and accessible. A 2020 U.S. Visioning Report stressed that “we are in dire need of STEM role models.” This requires increasing the number of teachers and faculty from underrepresented groups and making STEM education more culturally relevant in underserved communities.
“We have done well [in STEM education] as a nation for very many people,” Brown said. “The challenge is, we haven’t done well for everyone.”
Stimulate Their Curiosity
Maynard Okereke, the founder of Hip Hop Science, refers to curiosity as “nature’s Ph.D.” His site fuses science and entertainment in ways that appeal to all kids and encourages more diversity in the sciences.
The ISS National Laboratory sponsors unique programming, from the Space Station Ambassadors to the ExoLab Legume in Space challenge. NASA hosts abundant STEM content, including the TechRise Student Challenge, in which students design experiments to fly on a high-altitude balloon. The European Space Agency presents activities and events in multiple languages.
Further, we must find creative ways to incorporate holistic STEM education. Like many kids, North Carolina State graduate student Aurora Toennisson wanted to be an astronaut. Then she found biology, asked herself, “Why be an astronaut when you can explore all this amazing stuff that’s on Earth?” and combined her passions into the burgeoning field of space biology.
“Space is about more than space exploration,” Brown said at the ISS panel. “I like to say it’s also space for Earth: your community, your health, and your culture.”
Provide Spaces that Spark Innovation
Kids need spaces to learn, experiment and explore. Beyond outfitting schools with computer labs and science equipment, we must make more STEM spaces available, in-person and online. For example, Boys & Girls Clubs of America has built DIY STEM, a hands-on curriculum that any organization can use. The national nonprofit also has partnered with Raytheon to operate a series of STEM Centers of Innovation near military installations nationwide.
Meanwhile, some great online options include the following:
- Genes In space offers a unique online competition in which students design DNA experiments to be performed on the ISS.
- Story Time From Space leverages technology and storytelling into a delightful opportunity: Astronauts read books to kids from the ISS.
- Kids who want to code should visit Hack-A-Sat, a joint venture of the U.S. Air Force and Space Force to find talented space cyber security professionals.
Meet Kids on Social Media
Remember the 2019 LEGO survey regarding kids’ love of space? It also found that more kids in the U.S. and U.K. aspire to be YouTubers than astronauts. Meanwhile, 56% of kids in China said they want to be astronauts.
So let’s meet children where they are and provide entertaining, educational STEM content on social media. Many scientists are doing just that.
NASA operates dozens of social media services, with its Instagram account being a must-follow. Dainis brings an energetic presence to TikTok, where she cuts lively videos focusing on experiments. Camille Elizabeth, the Galactic Gal on TikTok, is an aerospace engineer whose energy for space and science leaps from her videos. Samantha Cristoforetti, a European Space Agency astronaut who lives on the ISS, shares stunning views and illuminating stories from the space station on Twitter. And Kellie Gerardi, a bioastronautics researcher and space communicator on TikTok, shares her training and preparation for an upcoming mission aboard Virgin Galactic.
From math to biology, critical thinking to teamwork, mindfulness to curiosity, space exploration mobilizes our senses, passions, and desire to learn. Kids can draw so much from space and the astronauts who go there. We must revive that in our STEM education.
“Through space, you can inspire a generation,” NASA astronaut and aerospace engineer Jeanette Epps said at the ISS conference. Apollo did it before. Artemis can achieve it again.
Originally published at https://www.newsweek.com on April 25, 2023.
About The Author Dylan Taylor
Dylan Taylor is a global business leader, commercial astronaut, thought leader and philanthropist. He is an active vanguard in the space exploration industry as a CEO, investor, explorer and futurist. Currently, Dylan serves as Chairman & CEO of Voyager Space, a multi-national space exploration firm that acquires and integrates leading space exploration enterprises globally.
Dylan has been cited by Harvard University, SpaceNews, the BBC, Pitchbook, CNBC, CNN and others as having played a seminal role in the growth of the private space industry. As an early-stage investor in more than 50 emerging space ventures, including Accion, Kepler, York, Astrobotic, LeoLabs, Relativity, and Planet, Dylan is widely considered the most active private space investor in the world.
Dylan is an explorer of note. On December 11th, 2021 Dylan became just the 606th human to go to space as part of the crew of Blue Origin’s NewShepard Mission 19. Accordingly, Dylan earned his commercial astronaut wings with the FAA and his universal astronaut wings from the Association of Space Explorers.
He is also one of only a handful of humans to have descended to the deepest part of the world’s oceans, Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench as part of the Limiting Factor Expedition in July of 2022. In that mission, Dylan descended with pilot Victor Vescovo to a depth in excess of 10,800 meters (35,500 feet) into an area of the Mariana Trench that had never been visited by humans. Dylan is the youngest human to have been to the deepest part of the world’s oceans and crossed the Karman line into Space. In addition, Dylan was a mission specialist on the 2022 mission by OceanGate to the Titanic in the Northern Atlantic, making him just the second human to visit space, the Challenger Deep and the Titanic. Dylan has been a member of the Explorers Club since 2014.
Dylan’s technical background, global business experience and unbridled passion for space make him a unique figure within his industry. He regularly speaks and writes about the future of the space economy and is sought after by the media for his expertise in the financial aspects of space investing as well as industry dynamics.
As a thought leader and futurist, he has written many popular pieces on the future of the space industry for Forbes, FastCompany, Newsweek, SpaceNews, ROOM, The Space Review, Apogeo Spatial and Space.com. As a speaker, Dylan has keynoted many of the major space conferences around the world and has appeared regularly on Bloomberg, Fox Business, and CNBC.
Dylan has extensive global business experience as both a board director and CEO in several industries, including advanced electronics, finance and real estate. He previously served as a Director for UMB Bank, a Fortune 500 company based in Kansas City and as a mutual fund director for the Jackson Funds where he oversaw assets of $8B across 130 distinct funds. He has also served in the roles of CEO, President and Board Director for multinational companies like Prudential PLC, Honeywell, Colliers and Jones Lang LaSalle. Dylan was recognized as a Fortune 1000 CEO with P&L responsibility in excess of $3B and operations encompassing 15,000 employees in over 60 countries. In addition, Dylan has participated in 4 IPOs over the course of his career.
Dylan is a leading advocate of space manufacturing and the utilization of in-space resources to further space exploration and settlement. In 2017, he became the first private citizen to manufacture an item in space when the gravity meter he co-designed and commissioned was 3D printed on the International Space Station. The historic item is now housed in the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.
Dylan maintains an extensive philanthropic impact on the space industry. In 2017, Dylan founded the nonprofit and social movement, Space for Humanity, which seeks to democratize space exploration and develop solutions to global issues through the scope of human awareness to help solve the world’s most intractable problems. Building upon his passion and support for the space industry, Dylan serves as a strategic advisor for both the Archmission and the Human Spaceflight Program and is a co-founding patron of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, which promotes the growth of commercial space activity. Additionally, he is also a leading benefactor to the Brooke Owens Fellowship, Patti Grace Smith Fellowship and Mission: Astro Access.
Dylan is the founder and Chairman of Multiverse Media, parent company of the popular space philosophy website 2211.world as well as the Ad Astra Dinners, a Jeffersonian-style dinner series featuring some of the world’s leading influencers discussing the future of humanity in space. Another subsidiary of Multiverse Media, Multiverse Publishing, publishes books by leading authors including Frank White, Isaac Asimov and Gerard K. O’Neill. It is also the executive producer of the documentary film, The High Frontier and the forthcoming film, Fortitude.
For his influence as a global leader and his commitment to creating a positive impact on the world, Dylan has been honored with numerous personal and professional accolades in recent years. The World Economic Forum recognized Dylan as a Young Global Leader in 2011 and he was named a Henry Crown Fellow of the Aspen Institute in 2014. In 2020, Dylan was recognized by the Commercial Spaceflight Federation with their top honor for business and finance, following in the footsteps of 2019’s inaugural winner, the late Paul Allen.
Dylan Taylor earned an MBA in Finance and Strategy from the Booth School of Business at University of Chicago and holds a BS in Engineering from the honors college at the University of Arizona, where he graduated Tau Beta Pi and in 2018 was named Alumnus of the year. In 2013, he attended the Global Leadership and Public Policy for the 21st Century program at Harvard University.
Dylan and his family reside in Denver, Colorado where he is active locally with Colorado Concern and the Colorado Spaceport. In his spare time, Dylan enjoys hiking, competing in triathlons and spending time outdoors. He is married to author Gabrielle V. Taylor with whom he has two teenage daughters.