Science Explains It

written by David Mixson

Early in my career at NASA (in the early 90s), I developed a set of experiments and went on tour to local schools and libraries, showing kids that science can be fun. I named my pitch Science Explains It.

A NASA photographer came along for several sessions, and one photo, in particular, captured a special moment of excitement on a little girl’s face as I revealed one of my secrets of science.

That photo appeared in several publications, from the Marshall Star all the way to major NASA Headquarters magazine-like publications.

And each time the photo was used, more and more of my body got cropped out. Perhaps the single most exciting picture of me during my career kept getting zoomed in to the point that only I knew the hands were mine.

Sure, I showed my family and friends the photo, but I had to tell them it was me making her smile. I can’t know for sure if they even believed me.

I would love to know if that little girl pursued science or engineering.

I stopped doing those demonstrations a few years later, and I’m not sure why. Sure, there was a wife, a new baby, and pesky Master’s Degree engineering night classes, but those seem like lame excuses now.

Looking back, I wish I hadn’t stopped. I probably got more out of making those kids smile than they did watching me do it. Isn’t that often the case? Science can be fun. Just look at those little girls’ faces.

The image for this post is an artist’s illustration of the actual photo I’m talking about. This is the first illustration in the Make NASA Great series that’s me. Well, just the back of the head and hands, um, when I was twenty-something.

More tomorrow.


* This article originally appeared on LinkedIn as part of the “Make NASA Great” series.

Science Explains It

Full page spread in NASA Headquarters publication.

Cropped Over Time

Their excitement is magnetic.

About the Author

David Mixson writes about Old Space and New Space. He worked as an engineer at NASA for more than thirty years and is the author of three books.

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