As a former schoolteacher, I fondly remember how rewarding it was when I could provide my students with a unique and exciting way to learn about a particular topic.  While reading and studying books is a useful way to comprehend a subject matter, stepping outside of the classroom by taking a field trip far enhances a child’s experience and overall interest in the subject.    

As a legislator, I work regularly with wonderful teachers and school administrators in the 12th District.  I recognize the high demands and important responsibilities put upon them as they educate and nurture the minds of our community’s children.  I will never waiver in my dedication to ensuring that they have the tools and support they need to perform their challenging and rewarding jobs.  

That is why I was thrilled when the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) brought outer space and the International Space Station to Tison Middle School in Weatherford.

NASA informed me that they have created an incredible teaching tool they call the “Driven to Explore Destination Station,” which is essentially a multi-media space museum on wheels. 

Inside this special motor coach, students engage in an interactive learning experience, focusing on what life is like for astronauts on the International Space Station.   NASA’s mobile museum can be driven right onto school property so that students and teachers can walk out of their classrooms and directly into the remarkable exhibit.    

With a short turnaround, NASA worked with both my congressional team and the administrators at Tison to make this special presentation available to the entire student body. 

NASA specialists drove the truck and trailer onto school grounds and set up the exhibit before the first school bus arrived that morning.  

Throughout the day, over 400 students cycled through the exhibit, learning about the way NASA functions and its important work in American scientific research.   Students and teachers were able to hold a moon rock – one of only 10 touchable moon rocks in the world – as well as discover how astronauts survive in space.  Multiple monitors displayed videos of an astronaut’s perspective of Earth from the space station, along with narratives about current missions and future expeditions.  Students were even given the opportunity to take photos while wearing real helmets and gloves that astronauts wear in space.  

At the end of the school day, Tison Assistant Principal Dustin Bell reported that the students loved the experience, and the exhibit was the “talk of the school.”  As a science teacher, he too, was very impressed with the material presented, knowing that his students won’t soon forget about the experience of holding an actual moon rock or taking a selfie in an astronaut’s helmet. 

I am grateful for the unique and exciting opportunity NASA’s “Driven to Explore Destination Station” exhibit brought to the students and teachers at Tison Middle School.

For the students, a memorable exposure to science and space exploration like this one will undoubtedly expand their curiosity, enhance their interest in science, and perhaps develop their future ambitions. 

As Assistant Principal Bell reported, NASA may very well find a Tison Middle School graduate in a spacesuit one day.