“Be a crewmate not a passenger on Spaceship Earth.” That was the message from veteran NASA astronaut Nicole Scott, launching the first in series of creative challenges for Our Place in Space, today, Wednesday 13 April, aimed at getting people across Northern Ireland and around the world thinking about the universe in which we live.
In conversation with artist and author Oliver Jeffers, Nicole explained how two trips to space, 104 days aboard the international space station and a spacewalk, gave her a newfound cosmic perspective.
“There is a big difference between being a passenger and being a crewmate, whether you’re in space on a space station or you’re down here on our planetary spaceship,” she said. “I felt it was really important I share that message when I came home. It’s not just about me in my backyard. I need to think about how what I do every day affects my family, my community, and then all earthlings and life I share the planet with.
“That’s what that perspective from space gives you. Everything and everyone are interconnected in one way or another. It becomes crystal clear that the only border that matters is that thin blue line of atmosphere that blankets and protects us all.”
The American-born astronaut, who has also spent time under water as an aquanaut, then set a video challenge to bring space and art together by creating a postcard representing our mission as crewmates to protect Spaceship Earth. Postcard designs will be uploaded via the Creative Challenges section of Our Place in Space website and winning entries will receive a prize.
The exciting creative opportunity is the first of seven challenges with future interviewees to include astronaut Chris Hadfield, writer Neil Gaiman, and Young Woman Engineer of the Year Ella Podmore.
Alongside the creative challenges that will be released every month, Our Place in Space will also develop new STEAM-based learning resources for use at Key Stages 2 and 4 to inspire learning about the solar system and our place in it. Produced with Professor Stephen Smartt, a leading astrophysicist from Queen’s University Belfast, and featuring fun animations and creative tasks for use in the classroom by Nerve Centre, the resources will be released over the coming months.
Rachel McDermott, Education Manager with Our Place in Space, said: “Nerve Centre has developed a learning programme that will encourage innovative thinking about our cosmos and how we can better share and protect our planet. The Our Place in Space creative challenges are an opportunity for people across the world to take part and be creative, while our new curriculum-linked resources will support in-class learning and digital creativity.”
To view the interview between Nicole Stott and Oliver Jeffers and take part in the first Our Place in Space creative challenge, visit Our Place in Space Creative Challenges page.