Students at Pecan Grove and Gonzales Primary received a visit this week from one Baton Rouge teen who is training to be one of the first astronauts on Mars.
Dubbed the NASA Blueberry, sixteen-year-old Alyssa Carson spoke to fourth and fifth grade girls interested in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) as part of the STEM GEMS mentoring program created by Alsie Dunbar.
Students learned about space and what it takes to be an astronaut, as well as Carson's personal journey to becoming an astronaut, a dream she has had since she was three years old.
As part of her requirements to graduate with an International Baccalaureate from the Baton Rouge International School, the teen must complete a “personal project.” She decided as her project to inspire younger children by giving motivational speeches to schools in all 64 parishes.
"It is important to have Alyssa Carson be apart of the STEM GEMS program and to have the young girls meet her because I want them to see that there are no limitations," Dunbar said. "With them visibly seeing her with the space suit on it goes to show them that they can shatter every glass ceiling that may be placed on them throughout the course of their academic career. You can do anything, which is what was instilled in me."
During the school visits, she will discuss space, but also hopes to get students interested in math and science. One of the most important things she wants to promote to students is focus on their dreams and never give up.
"Follow your dream, no matter what it is, or how crazy it might sound to you or to other people just follow that dream," Carson told the students.
The teen astronaut has accomplished many things in her years of training, such as becoming the first person to attend all of NASA's world space camps and being the first person to complete the NASA passport program, visiting all of the space agencies centers in the U.S. Last year she graduated from the Advanced Possum Academy, a hands-on program for students interested in upper atmospheric research and spaceflight, where she was the youngest to ever be accepted and graduate from the program. She was also one of the recipients of the 2017 La Young Hero Award.
All of her training, and future training, has been part of her plan to be on the human mission to Mars when NASA launches in 2033. The mission is a two to three year journey, taking six months to arrive to the Red Planet, up to two years on Mars exploring and researching and another six months back to Earth. If she continues on the path she is on now, she has a very high chance of being one of the first astronauts to ever step foot on Mars.