It's one thing to think about and talk about living out your dreams, but a whole other thing to actually do it. We at GIRLS CAN! CRATE want to inspire your little ones to know that they can BE and DO anything. And what could be better to help them to know that than to meet someone who is doing and living what they'd dreamt of when she was younger?
Meet Christy Darcie. Christy is a scientist at the NASA Johnson Space Center working on technology to recycle air and water for the International Space Station and future space vehicles.
GIRLS CAN! CRATE: What is NASA and what does it do?
Christy Darcie: NASA studies and explores space. It does a lot of different things, like send satellites into space to take pictures of other planets and their moons, land a rover on Mars and drive it around, conduct science experiments, and make airplanes safer and less noisy, to name a few. Since we explore space, we also have to make sure astronauts can stay alive and healthy, so we also build and test rockets, design astronaut clothes, package food in special ways to make it last a long time, design special exercise equipment, and more.
I used to think that everyone at NASA was an astronaut, but that’s not true. Astronauts are a small part of the really big group of people who work at NASA. You can work at NASA if you’re a doctor, accountant, biologist (someone who studies plants and living things), meteorologist (someone who studies weather), engineer, technician, chemist, geologist (someone who studies rocks), and more.
GCC: Why are NASA and scientists who study/explore space important?
CD: We humans have a natural curiosity to explore. The more we learn about space, the more we realize we don’t know- and the more we explore, the bigger we realize it is. It's very exciting, since there's so much for us to explore, learn, and see for the first time.
The more we learn about space, the more we can learn about how certain things formed and how certain processes work. When we understand that, we can apply that knowledge to our own planet, and better understand how Earth works and how we can take care of it better.
Also, a lot of technology comes out of exploring space. Athletic shoes, sunglasses, wheels on a skateboard and bicycle helmet technology have all come from or been inspired by NASA. Also, if you’ve ever seen a fireman’s clothes or a NASCAR racer’s suit, or even the dimples on a golf ball, you’ve seen NASA technology at work.
GCC: When you were little, it was always your dream to work for NASA. What was it about NASA that inspired you?
CD: When I was 6 or 7 years old, I was flipping through a book about space. Everything was so big and beautiful- pictures of planets and nebulae and all of these amazing things out in space. On one of the pages was a picture of the space shuttle blasting off, and I thought, “That is so cool. I hope someday I can do that.” NASA gets to explore and learn things and get pictures of things that humans have never seen before. I realized that I would love to be a part of that.
GCC: What advice would you give to a young girl about chasing her dreams?
CD: When I was in elementary school, a teacher told me that if I worked my hardest, I could do whatever I wanted to do. She was SO right. If you do your best now, and keep doing your best, you really can follow your dreams.
There is a difference between doing your best and being great at everything. I did my best in school and there were certain subjects that my friends got better grades than me, even though I worked harder. But you know what? Because I worked harder, I understood the material a lot better than they did. So just because something’s tough, don’t give up. Just do your best.
Also, in this world you may have people tell you that something is impossible or that you can’t do it. Take “impossible” as a challenge, and don’t take no for an answer. Where there’s a will, there’s a way, and there’s a first time for everything.
GCC: If you could visit another planet, which would it be and why?
CD: Probably Mars. I could set up a nice vacation home there, I think. Beautiful red landscapes, similar gravity to Earth, an occasional dust storm but nothing too hard to handle compared to the other planets.
GCC: What is your favorite constellation?
CD: I really like Orion. He’s always easy to pick out because of his belt, but he also has a really beautiful nebula as well. As soon as I see Orion, I know that it’s winter time. I like having that easy marker every year.
GCC: What is a fun fact about space you'd like our girls to know?
CD: Did you know that space isn’t really silent? It’s true that you couldn’t hear me yelling to you, since space is a vacuum, meaning there’s no air for the sound to travel through. But there are different types of sounds that our ears can't pick up, vibrations and other things that can only be "heard" by computers. Scientists have used special equipment to actually listen to comets, nebulae and more. Crazy, huh? All of space is singing, and you can hear it if you have the right equipment and the right settings.
GCC: If someone wants a job like yours, what kinds of things will they need to learn and what will they have to work hard at?
CD: School is so important! Math and science are big ones. I’m not sitting at my desk doing math problems all day, but the principles and concepts that you’re learning in school today play a part everything I do. Art, music and history are also important. The more you know about a whole bunch of different things, the better you can think outside the box and solve different problems. And history is important because everyone you learn about in your history book used to be a kid, just like you. As they grew up, they made mistakes and learned lessons, which were written down so that you can learn about them and not have to make the same mistakes yourself.