Most kids write to an actor or singer. Katy wrote to an astronaut.
Katy really wants to go to Space Camp at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville this summer and we are agreeable for her to go. It’ll be such a good experience for her. And at the price of that camp, a once-in-a-lifetime experience! They offer several scholarships including for academic achievement so I thought Katy should try for one. Even if she doesn’t get it, the process will be a good experience. One of the components of the scholarship packet is to write a three paragraph essay on an astronaut the would-be camper has something in common with. So I figured a good place to start would be “astronauts who used to be Girl Scouts”. That search brought up a website with about 15 former Girl Scout astronauts listed. We looked at the biographies of several and came up with one who also likes reading, hiking and music — things Katy also enjoys. That astronaut is Barbara Morgan. We found out that she is the educator in residence (whatever that means) at Boise State University. Well, thanks to the magic of the internet, not only did we learn about her, we also found her e-mail at Boise State. Katy wrote an email explaining her project and asking several questions. Among other things, Morgan was the back-up astronaut to Christa MCauliffe. Katy knows about the Challenger and she had some questions about that.
So, the e-mailed was fired off and we sat back and waited. The next day, Katy received a reply from Kim Long, Morgan’s assistant. Katy got a few of her questions answered and some places to find more information. Katy wrote her essay and we e-mailed a copy of that with a thank you. Then Ms. Long wrote back and asked for a mailing address to send a package.
This is where it gets good. The package came today! Katy received a personally autographed photo and a packet with basil seeds that had flown into space. In all of our research, we somehow we missed that Morgan carried millions of little basil seeds into space. They were brought back and packaged for NASA’s Seeds in Space program. The package has a personal note from Morgan to Katy and also has a photo of Morgan with her big bag of seeds on the Endeavour. The envelope contained two packets of seeds, those that had been in space and a control group that never left Earth. Katy wants to plant both and see if there’s any difference in how they grow. So we’re going to try that. I imagine we’ll kill them as quickly as we kill every other plant. But Katy’s eager to try. Our neighbor who gardens is quite excited about it, too, and has offered to help her with the planting in the spring. I think it would be neat to see if her class can plant some in the school garden. Katy can ask about that. At any rate, she’s going to have a first-rate show and tell for her class. Coincidentally, the fourth grade is in the middle of a space unit so it’s certainly very timely.
It says “For Katy, Keep reaching for your dreams, the sky is no limit! I am very proud of you! Barbara R. Morgan.”