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Astronaut visits Hambrick MS

By P.J. Williams

Students at Hambrick Middle School heard about the importance of staying in school, learning math and science, and graduating high school Monday from NASA astronaut Dr. Franklin Chang-Diaz, Representative Gene Green (D-TX), and Houston businessman Israel Galvan.

Green explained to the students that what they do today impacts their future. “Seventh and eight graders, you are preparing to do whatever you are going to be,” Green said. Dr. Chang-Diaz agreed and encouraged the students to consider a career in aeronautics, “The nine to twelve year olds today will be the future astronauts when we have the first manned flight to Mars.”

From personal experience, Galvan explained that it is possible for students to overcome any obstacles to reach their dream. “I came from a family of modest means—that’s a euphemism for being dirt poor,” Galvan told the students. But despite his family’s economic status, Galvan went on to be a leading businessman in the aeronautic industry.

“It is a great opportunity for our students to hear first hand from a successful astronaut and a successful businessman about the importance of education especially math and science,” Green said, “Students need to know that an education, and committing to learning, can lead to success.”

Dr. Chang-Diaz who is originally from Costa Rica received a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Connecticut in 1973 and a doctorate in applied plasma physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1977. He was soon recruited by NASA and became an astronaut in August of 1982. A veteran of seven space flights, he has logged over 1,600 hours in space. Dr. Chang-Diaz shares the record of the most flights into space by a human being.

During a question and answer session, Dr. Chang-Diaz answered students’ questions about how astronauts eat, drink, sleep, and use the bathroom among other questions.