It's hard to discuss education without coming to the conclusion that today's students, particularly those studying the hard sciences here in America, are in need of help. I recently had the opportunity to talk about this with Buzz Aldrin, Lunar Module pilot for the Apollo 11 lunar mission and, along with Neil Armstrong, one of the first two men to walk on the moon.
I talked with Buzz Aldrin about his new iPhone app, his interest in promoting science education, and what he is doing to bring together experts in the hard sciences to provide inspiration and resources to today's youth.
Fifty years ago, space exploration provided a whole generation with a common goal, but today communications, computing, and visual technology are the cutting-edge. Buzz admits to having some notoriety because of comments he's made about the space program, but says he's trying to use that notoriety to "…bring awareness to what I think needs to happen in order for us to continue to make meaningful contributions to a human presence in space." According to Buzz, there are five areas we need to focus on: "Commercializing space, getting people excited about space exploration, funding science to develop the technology needed to make use of the resources out there, and using the opportunities space gives us to give us greater security down here and up there." The fifth and perhaps most important area of focus is education. It was what motivated him to develop his app.
Buzz Aldrin's Portal to Science and Space Exploration
This app is not only a great resource for students interested in science and space, but will also help parents get more involved with their children's education. Buzz gathered a network of scientists, physicists, astronomers, astronauts, and many other of the world's great minds to not only develop the app, but to help keep the app timely and relevant. "This app isn't just my ideas. I'm a consensus builder and I think the app reflects that. Obviously, I have some opinions about where we need to go, but it's important to get everyone at the same table. Now there are a few things that haven't been included in the app yet, like good updates on the Chinese and Indian space programs, but that's coming. We want to build slowly, make sure it works and keep people excited about space."
I think the most inspiring thing he said to me was this. "Man has a place in space and the United States has a lot of expertise that it can use to bring together the other nations. Our goal doesn't need to be getting back to the moon. We can help others get there. We can bring together a lot of great people and really help the other nations to work together." He spoke with such conviction that it wasn't possible, even through the lens of Skype, to not feel more than a little infected by his passion for space and his dream of man's future.
He's packed a lot of that same energy into this app. So if you're a space and science fan looking for a little bit of a "buzz," this app has a wealth of inspiring content.An interview with Buzz Aldrin January-February 2011 People27