SETI bioastro: Fw: Solar System Ambassadors Chosen to Teach Earthlings about Space

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Date: Thu Dec 27 2001 - 07:50:33 PST

----- Original Message -----
Sent: Wednesday, December 26, 2001 5:17 PM
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Subject: Solar System Ambassadors Chosen to Teach Earthlings about Space


Contact: Guy Webster (818) 354-6278

26, 2001


     Space enthusiasts from all 50 states and Puerto Rico have
been selected to lead public events in 2002 conveying news and
excitement about solar-system exploration.

     The 278 volunteers chosen for the coming year's Solar
System Ambassador program of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory,
Pasadena, Calif., range from a Minnesota lawyer to a Texas
teacher trainer, and from a California respiratory therapist
to a Georgia marine mechanic.

     "I'm doing this because I see a real need for the public
to know more about space," said one newly named ambassador,
Dr. Bob Polcyn, a retired physician in Hot Springs, S.D. "One
of the major lessons from learning more about other planets is
how special our own planet is."

     The ambassadors run events such as star parties,
lectures, community displays, musical presentations and
library appearances. JPL provides them with special training
opportunities, including question-and-answer sessions with
leaders of interplanetary missions. It also supplies materials
such as the latest pictures from JPL-managed spacecraft
orbiting Mars and Jupiter.

     "I'm very interested in the training, and I think the
ambassador program will give me more credibility that will
help me reach more people in my community," Polcyn said.
Through his local astronomy club, he has previously presented
space talks to elementary students and retirement-home
residents. As a Solar System Ambassador, he intends to
organize programs both for adults and children.

     Another new ambassador, Julie Corbett-Steineke, of
Chicago, will concentrate on programs for young people. She is
a gymnastics coach who has trained Olympic competitors. "I
want to be a Solar System Ambassador so I can reach a greater
number of children and have more of an impact by allowing them
to learn along with me," she said. "I love that spark in a
child's eyes, the 'Wow!' when they want to run right to the
computer or the library and find out more."

     The five-year-old ambassador program will reach all 50
states for the first time in 2002, said JPL's Kay Ferrari,
coordinator of the program. In 2001, 206 Solar System
Ambassadors in 48 states organized more than 960
presentations, reaching about 2.5 million people, including
those who learned about the programs via mass media, she said.

     "The 2002 ambassadors are a wonderfully diverse group,"
Ferrari said. "The program brings people together who have all
kinds of different backgrounds but share an interest in space

     Ambassadors were selected by the program's board of
directors at JPL. During an application period in September,
candidates submitted information about their experience and
their proposed events.

     Nearly half the members of the 2002 group already have
experience as Solar System Ambassadors. Peggy Motes, of
Muncie, Ind., has participated since 1999. She runs a
planetarium for the Muncie public schools and was recently
named one of America's top educators by USA Today. Through
the JPL affiliation, she gets updates on current missions that
she uses in "News from NASA" presentations in the planetarium.

     "Recently, we've had information about the Mars Odyssey
spacecraft and the Genesis mission to collect particles of the
solar wind and bring them back to Earth," Motes said.

     For Florence Brammer, a Minneapolis labor-law attorney
just becoming a Solar System Ambassador, talking to groups
about space exploration will be something new. She's been
inspired by the night sky since childhood and has helped
conduct art programs in local schools. "Space exploration is
one of the frontiers of the future," she said. "My hope for
being an ambassador is not only that I'll enjoy it for myself,
but that I can get middle-school kids excited about space

     Dane Wilkins, a respiratory therapist in Ukiah, Calif.,
has experience teaching about health topics, but not about
outer space. "I've always been interested in space, and I
think the best way for me to learn as much as possible about
something is by teaching it. As a Solar System Ambassador,
I'll be able to get information straight from the horse's
mouth. I'm really excited about it and think it will be a
benefit to the community here."

     Online information is available about the Solar System
Ambassador program at .
JPL is managed for NASA by the California Institute of
Technology in Pasadena.

                      # # # # #

NOTE TO EDITORS: Solar System Ambassadors for 2002 are listed
state-by-state at . Guy
Webster, at (818) 354-6278, can help you contact them.

12/26/01 - GW
#2001- 246

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