Live From...the Stratosphere
April Whitt, Biography
Name: April Whitt
Position: Astronomy educator, Atlanta
April Whitt has worked on education and outreach at the Adler Planetarium
in Chicago, and was selected by the National Science Foundation to travel
to the South Pole in 1993-1994. She's on staff at Fernbank, the only major
science center in America operated by a school district. In 1995 she became
a FOSTER teacher, participating in a 10-day workshop at NASA Ames on the
KAO and infrared astronomy. She will serve as LFS's "Educator in the Stratosphere"
for the live observing missions.
April says, "I grew up in rural New York state and my father built a
telescope when we were children. I got hooked on the beauty of astronomy
- the lunar craters, the rings of Saturn - and had a dark enough sky to
learn some constellations. I remember watching the Mercury, Gemini and
Apollo launches on tv in the cafeteria of our grade school, and thinking
that was the most exciting time to be alive.
"At Fredonia State University where I did undergraduate work, I gave
programs in a small planterium, sharing the delight in the night sky with
others, and learned about an internship at Morehead Planetarium in Chapel
"That internship and completing a master's degree in education was a
great experience. I worked with teachers and students from all grade levels.
The observatory there allowed us to show people the lunar craters again,
and it was during the years there that the Voyagers reached Jupiter and
Saturn, sending back exciting close-up pictures.
"Astronomy brings all the different sciences together. And it's beautiful,
as well as new information coming in that you get to put together. I think
of it as a puzzle, science as the ultimate detective story, trying to
figure out where something came from, how it got that way, or what's going
to happen next. Every time some new instrument becomes available for scientists
to use, there's a whole bunch of new questions that come up from it.
"That's my favorite part of teaching: Being able to find out something
neat in science and making it available to the teachers and students here
in DeKalb County. I want to be able to say to kids that come to Fernbank
Science Center, "If you want to badly enough, you can do anything you
want in science or just about anything else, and here's some information
to get you started."