RocketSTEM Ignites a Love of Space and Science in the Next Generation of Explorers

” RocketSTEM is a nonprofit instructional media organization devoted to motivating the next generation of explorers,” Clark states. In our case, we focus on utilizing the history of area exploration and the marvels of the universe as an entrance to getting trainees into considering following a STEM-centric career path, whether that be as an engineer, a scientist, a medical professional, or an astronaut.

” It was a remarkable time where I had the ability to photo the orbiter inside the Vehicle Assembly Building,” Clark states.” I got to walk all around the launch pad while Atlantis, the last NASA shuttle sent out into area, was being gotten ready for launch. I even sat in the cockpit of 2 of the area shuttles as they were being decommissioned. Those were incredible opportunities that very, very couple of people have ever been allowed to have.”

Clarks close encounter with NASAs final launches fired up an enthusiasm for all things space and space exploration. In 2012 he coordinated with a group of like-minded volunteers to release RocketSTEM, an instructional resource for trainees, moms and dads, and instructors that intends to promote interest in clinical fields through the lens of area expedition.

Clarks first stop? Cape Canaveral.

Simply as the COVID-19 pandemic closed schools around the globe, RocketSTEM introduced a series of online instructional resources– lessons, space-themed math issues, video games, and more– to assist keep them amused and learning. Clark has actually seen a rise in web traffic and has relied on DreamHost to keep the site up and running for the previous eight years.

Press qualifications in hand, he moved to the cape for a few months and landed a front-row seat to the last of NASAs objectives.

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During the 2009 recession– “I guess we can call that the small economic crisis now,” Chase Clark quips– Clark chose he was prepared for a new adventure. A longtime journalist and graphic designer, he was living in South Florida, working for a business that produced NFL video game publications. When the economy began to tank, he decided to search for a change of scenery.

Introducing RocketSTEM

Born at the end of the Cold Wars space race, Clarks earliest memory is of enjoying a Saturn V rocket launch on his grandpas black-and-white tv.

Chase Clark presenting with Space Shuttle Endeavour perched atop historic Launchpad 39A in the background.

” After the final landing of Atlantis, I discovered myself wishing to continue sharing what I had actually seen and found out,” Clark states. “Considering my background in journalism and graphic design, starting an area publication was a natural choice. From there, the decision to create RocketSTEM as a not-for-profit instructional media organization came about, and a couple lots fellow space writers, lovers, and photographers joined the cause and assisted significantly in making it a success.”

” The publication isnt over for good,” Clark states, simply taking a break in the meantime. “The last problem was released in 2017, but the magazine is still downloaded over 10,000 times annually.”

” Our first problem also included an interview with an existing flight director at NASAs Mission Control in Houston,” Clark states. “From there, weve had the ability to speak with a wide array of individuals– a radio astronomer, theoretical physicist Brian Greene, British astronaut Tim Peake, a Boeing aviation structural engineer, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, Buzz Aldrin, and Apollo-era astronauts Al Worden and Ed Gibson.”

Clark reached out to Apollo 17 astronauts Gene Cernan and Jack Schmitt– the most recent people to have actually left their footprints on the lunar surface area– for an interview. He was astonished that, amidst national trips and coverage from national media outlets, both area icons gladly spent an hour each on the phone with him, giving special interviews for the first issue of RocketSTEM.

Their first project was creating an online publication, also called RocketSTEM. The very first issue accompanied the 40th anniversary of Apollo 17, the last human-crewed objective to the moon (up until now).

” It was powered up– there were a great deal of humming sounds going on, and it was a surreal experience,” Clark says. “I never ever might have pictured that I would ever get to do that. And no one else ever will, due to the fact that it is in a museum now.”

Endeavour and Atlantis finished their final objectives in 2011, and quickly afterward, the NASA space shuttle bus program was formally retired. However Clark wasnt all set to let the excitement go.

To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope in 2015, RocketSTEM released an unique 184-page problem that featured the leading 100 images taken by Hubble. Years later, it is still their most popular concern and gets downloaded every single day.

Clarks childhood fascination with area lay dormant up until he had a possibility to see NASAs shuttles and rockets up close. He was one of a handful of civilians who got to sit inside Endeavour, NASAs next-to-last shuttle bus sent into area, while it was being decommissioned.

A few years back, each concern of the publication became so time-intensive for Clark and the RocketSTEM volunteers that they chose to take a hiatus from developing brand-new concerns to concentrate on other web content.

” I was probably hooked from that point forward without even understanding it,” Clark says. “The area shuttle bus was an incredible beast of engineering, and I constantly admired NASA being able to launch a spacecraft into space and fly it back as a winged glider. At one point, I wished to develop an orbiting space hotel, but that dream remains unrealized to this day.”

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Full STEM Ahead

To Clark, finding out about area take advantage of humankinds natural curiosity, and he hopes RocketSTEM can utilize that interest to foster trainees interest in other sciences.

However theres one thing youll never discover at RocketSTEM: advertising.

RocketSTEM was always planned to be a nonprofit undertaking, a labor of love for Clark and the volunteers who have actually invested hundreds of hours speaking with, looking into, writing, taking photos, and more. Clark has actually been told by teachers and schools that they prefer content without marketing– and he enjoys to oblige.

The RocketSTEM website and magazine have plenty of news, pictures, history, and instructional material of different levels developed to be used by instructors in the class or by homeschooling moms and dads.

RocketSTEM staffers pose with Dr. Jim Green (5th from left), NASAs Director of Planetary Science (at the time), and the MAVEN spacecraft at Kennedy Space Center. Credit: Alan Walters

” Weve never ever accepted offers to advertise inside the magazine,” Clark says. He also keeps the website devoid of marketing. “And most notably, we have constantly made it available for free to read online or download as a PDF.”

” And reaching out into the universes is the supreme journey, whether it be with a telescope, robotic probes, or boots on the Moon and Mars. Learning about the universe is, at its many basic, the course to finding out more about ourselves. I believe that it is hard to fathom the universe and not have it cultivate a desire for more information about its workings, which requires crucial thinking and a much better understanding of the sciences.”

STEM– an acronym for science, mathematics, engineering, and innovation– has been a buzz word for the past years. Clarks nonprofit leapt right into nationwide efforts to renew interest in science education.

Clark states. “The understanding of anything, no matter how small, is truly simply the procedure of learning about the universe. All of what we know is part of the universe, and our world is just a small speck in a near-infinite reality of time and space.

Checking out deep space– from Home

The RocketSTEM group dealt with these resources silently and prepared to introduce their new site at the same time in July 2020, right before the new academic year.

Without even realizing it, Clark and his team were already preparing for a worldwide pandemic a year prior to issues about the spread of COVID-19 sent out countless children house from school.

” When the pandemic took hold in America and students were sent out house for the remainder of the year, we understood that we needed to go ahead and release the revamp ideal then,” Clark states. “Since then, weve remained in a constant rush to keep broadening the academic offerings.”

” We had actually chosen to revamp our homepage to focus on our academic content and to make the news short articles a secondary focus,” Clark states. “We likewise began developing more space-related word puzzles, book spotlights, and a new area of the website that we call QuizMe.

” While what we provide can not replace a real instructor in a class complete of students, we hope that our material can be a supplement to house knowing,” Clark says. “Hopefully, both moms and dads and kids will be and delight in the material influenced to keep discovering space expedition and the universe.”

Soon after schools closed, the RocketSTEM team released all the instructional content they had actually currently produced and is gradually including more.

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Assistance for Tinkerers

” Our WordPress theme is pretty resource-intensive and the site includes a lot of images so we fairly rapidly outgrew that. We updated to a VPS, and as soon as DreamPress came out, we moved the website over to that. DreamHost dealt with the entire procedure of moving our website in between the servers and everything went smoothly.”

Clark does not keep in mind rather why he chose DreamHost as the online house for his nonprofit, however hes delighted he did. In the early days of RocketSTEM, he began with a simple shared hosting plan.

The finest part about DreamPress?

The staging site feature provides Clark the freedom to play with the back end of the site with total desert. If something goes incorrect in his tinkering, he can replace the staging site and begin over without affecting the live website.

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” Our IT professional particularly loves that as he no longer gets calls from me telling him that I broke the site once again and need him to repair it ASAP.”

Into the Future

Another role he found himself stepping into on this journey was that of a teacher.

As executive director and founder of RocketSTEM, Clarks daily work has actually moved from content creation to coordinating and training volunteers (theyre always looking for more assistance, by the way), managing the site, coordinating with NASA and other organizations, and preparing RocketSTEMs long video game.

” I did not have any previous not-for-profit experience, which has definitely shown in the area of fundraising,” he says. “That has limited the area of things we can do, and there are many ideas that have stayed on the blackboard waiting for the day we have the financing and staffing. At the same time, Im quite happy of the content weve produced.”

An Atlas V rocket carrying NASAs Mars Curiosity rover rises into the sky. NASA is slated to send the Perseverance rover to Mars on July 17, 2020.

” Even as an experienced reporter, covering NASA has actually been an amazing journey,” Clark states. “Through RocketSTEM, I am able to pay that privilege forward.

RocketSTEM is moneyed primarily out of Clarks own pocket. He volunteers his time with the company, on top of his day task as a web supervisor and freelance author and designer.

During the 2009 recession– “I think we can call that the small recession now,” Chase Clark quips– Clark chose he was all set for a new adventure.” RocketSTEM is a nonprofit instructional media organization committed to inspiring the next generation of explorers,” Clark says.” After the last landing of Atlantis, I discovered myself wanting to continue sharing what I had seen and discovered,” Clark says.” We had decided to revamp our homepage to focus on our instructional content and to make the news short articles a secondary focus,” Clark states.” Even as a seasoned reporter, covering NASA has been an awe-inspiring journey,” Clark says.

Good reporters are curious by nature and love to investigate a subject or talk to a person to learn more about it or them. In essence, a good reporter serves as both a student and teacher.”

Even after its eight years, RocketSTEM is still finding out to adapt to modifications in media and trainee requirements. Theyre working on constructing a social networks following, planning video material, and reaching out to leaders in the area industry. Clark states an advisory committee of specialists is in the works, and last year he teamed up with astronomer Alan Hale, co-discoverer of the Hale– Bopp comet, who authors a weekly series of posts about asteroids and comets.


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