While she may not have been there personally, at least not yet, Penticton’s lady in space will be dropping in on this year’s TEDx Penticton to share some down-to-earth data.
Through Patricia Tribe’s Story Time From Space program the former director of education at Houston’s NASA Johnson Space Centre currently has a large payload of education material circling the globe.
Stimulating young minds through the wonder of science, and a lot of fun at the same time, has been her goal since coming up with the idea seven years ago while making spaghetti in the kitchen of her Penticton home.
Since that time, Tribe, who is the CEO of Global Space Education Foundation, has worked with some of the top children’s authors, scientists, engineers and astronauts to make this dream come true.
She is one of six presenters at the Nov. 25 TEDx Penticton event, The Young. The Wise. The Traditional which starts at 7 p.m. at the Cleland Theatre.
She will share the concept of the program which has received world-wide attention, especially from educators. The project is in partnership with the Advancement of Science in Space and NASA and it involves astronauts reading books and conducting specially designed experiments on board the International Space Station which will then be shared with kids back on earth.
“It’s going really well right now, we have 12 books up on orbit now, we have nine science experiments on orbit,” said Tribe. “Eleven of the 12 books that were read are down and we have one experiment down and we’re really excited about it. It was a lot better than we thought.”
The science experiments tie into the content of the children’s books and will give kids a hands-on element as part of the program.
However the work has not been without its challenges and at one point the entire project appeared to be in jeopardy when the nine experiments were destroyed in the catastrophic loss of the original payload aboard the SpaceX CRS-7 rocket which exploded just after take off in June 2015.
“We were stunned when we lost our first science payload; that was a bad day to say the least,” Tribe said afterwards.
But she and veteran Canadian astronaut Bjarni Tryggvason who designed the experiments, did not give up. They went back to the agencies which helped them put together the $70,000 worth of equipment and others and were successful in putting everything back in order. That culminated with the successful rendezvous of the SpaceX Dragon cargo ship with the space station and the transfer of the precious Canadian content last July.
“The books are pretty much self explanatory but the experiments will require curriculum development so I think within the next six months we will have some packages on the website, but it’s a matter of launches working out, there’s a lot of it that’s out of our control,” said Tribe.