MIT has 2020 Vision for Mars|
by Erika Brown
These questions and many more were on the minds of college teams nationwide as they prepared their first-round proposals for this yearís NASA Means Business Competition. And as the dust cleared earlier this month, five National Finalist teams were left standing: University of Colorado, Georgia Tech/Emory/Georgia State, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Purdue University, and MIT.
Many approaches were taken to this challenge, including MITís focus on engaging the public in various outreach activities that propose to build connections across disciplines, generations, and national boundaries. Our team looked at all levels of learning, from kindergarten through senior citizens, to design our proposal, 2020 Vision: An Educational Outreach Plan. From our study, a series of recommendations were made to NASA, including creating a space-centered scouting organization, publishing a book of Apollo-generation memories, and developing a traveling Mars exhibit for schools.
Now that the MIT team has been selected as a finalist, we will develop a detailed and viable business plan behind these ideas. But in order to make a real difference right now, we are also working on outreach efforts in the surrounding Boston area: helping Boy and Girl Scouts earn their space-related merit badges, teaching a weekend class on Mars for high schoolers, and coordinating a multi-university celebration of "Yuriís Night" - the April 12th anniversary of both the first manned space mission and the first US Shuttle flight.