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Meet Bonnie Samuelson
Multimedia Education Specialist, NASA Ames Research Center

My Job
In the Education Programs office at NASA's Ames Research Center, my job is extremely varied. In multimedia, I have worked on a team that produces educational multimedia materials. The team produced a CD-ROM entitled Exploring Aeronautics. This CD shows how airplanes fly and covers a wide range of other interesting flight-related information. Check it out at http://exploringaerospace.arc.nasa.gov/. The team is starting a new project on Astrobiology.

I have also contributed to the NASA Quest Web site, particularly Wright Flyer Online. The Wright Flyer Project tested a replica of the 1903 Wright Brothers' Flyer in NASA Ames' 40- x 80-foot wind tunnel in March 1999. The aircraft was built by the Los Angeles Section of the American Institute on Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), and was on display for a while in our blimp hangar at Moffett Field, California.

This has been a great project to be working on for many reasons, but what I like best about it are the people in it. For instance, Arvin Basnight, one of the people in the AIAA group that built the replica, lived at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, (near where the Wright Brothers flew their gliders and aircraft), and had met Orville Wright back in the 1930s! For more information, please see the Web site by the group that built the replica at http://www.alumni.caltech.edu/~johnlatz/1903.html . Also, watch for more Wright Flyer activities as we approach the 100th anniversary of that flight!

Other parts of my job include developing and hosting a NASA Educational Workshop (NEW) at Ames. This is a 2-week, jam-packed teacher education program in which participants learn about NASA missions from NASA scientists, and learn ways they can incorporate related science, math and technology educational materials into their classrooms.

In addition, I oversee NASA Ames' GLOBE franchise and related teacher training. The GLOBE program is a hands-on, international, environmental science and education program in which students collect data and conduct experiments to support scientific research about the earth. They can study air, water, soil and/or vegetation and share their data with scientists via the Internet. In return, the students receive images of their data and can track the environmental data throughout the school year or longer. This is a wonderful way for students to connect with the environment and learn about science at the same time.

My Career Path
Because I'm a person who likes a lot of variety and likes to try new things, my career path has taken me to a number of different places and kinds of work. In the early days, I was a substitute teacher in Fairfax County, Virginia. I also worked for a Congressman on Capitol Hill for a while. Interestingly, this Congressman was from the district in North Carolina in which the Wright Brothers made their historic flight!

Later, I began a career in human resources in the Federal government, working in such agencies as Customs, the National Institutes of Health (both in Maryland and North Carolina) and NASA. In 1988, I transferred from NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. to "mostly sunny" California.

Before I began working in my current job, I worked for the engineering office here which builds everything from tiny implantable electronic devices to huge wind tunnels.

Like many people, working at NASA was a dream come true for me. Early in life I was fascinated by the planets and stars in the heavens. To work in a place where I've had the opportunity to meet space travelers and pioneers in aerospace has been very exciting. And one of the most awesome experiences I've ever had was watching the STS-85 shuttle launch in Florida in August 1997.

Personal Information
Some of my hobbies include gourmet cooking, photography, traveling, hiking, gardening, floral design, and training and playing with my dog, Mister Twister.

I am also a Red Cross disaster relief volunteer, and I go to local fires and find places for people to stay when they have to leave their homes or apartments because of the fire. Also, during the El Niño floods I managed a Red Cross shelter for 125 displaced people. I like helping people in a disaster because I was once in one myself. In a hurricane a while back, I woke up in the middle of the night and my bed was floating (please -- do not try this at home)! So I understand what it is like to have your world turned upside down by a disaster, and I like to be there for others who must go through it, too.

Some Advice
I would recommend that you be sure to take your education seriously. It opens your world and gives you access to many personal and career possibilities you might not otherwise have.

Doing well in school makes it more likely you will be able to do work you will enjoy later on in life. Try to find summer or other jobs in areas related to your field(s) of interest. It will help you a great deal after you graduate and are looking for a full-time job.

Writing skills are very important to most careers. Writing has given me a chance to explore many varied and interesting subjects. There will always be something new around the corner!

I would also encourage students not to be intimidated by the sciences. Often you'll find it's just the terminology that is scary--not the concepts!

And in all of this, it's best to try and keep your eye on your goal, rather than any obstacles. You'll want to be realistic about possible bumps in the road, but don't let them steer you off course.

Credits and Contacts


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