RoundupReads Outreach effort feeds students’ hunger for space and STEM

Outreach effort feeds students’ hunger for space and STEM

Thanks to a collaboration with Johnson Space Center’s External Relations Office, Speaker’s Bureau volunteer and former Apollo Spacecraft Warning System Engineer Jerry Woodfill energized and excited students and educators with the Brazosport Independent School District and encouraged future generations in the area of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) during a subsequent Skype outreach session with the Aerospace Academy Mexico. The academy, located in Apizaco, Mexico, specializes in teaching students about the wonders of space.

During the Skype video conference from Johnson, Woodfill spoke to more than 500 students in Apizaco and answered questions about aerospace and his love of space exploration. During his time at Johnson, Woodfill designed an alarm system that first alerted astronauts and mission control in Houston of the explosion during Apollo 13, aiding in saving the astronauts aboard.

The academy’s goal is to cultivate interest and engagement for participation of the underserved and underrepresented K-12 youth in STEM careers and enhance the pipeline of highly skilled, technical workers critical in filling future STEM-related jobs. 

“We want to create successful students and for them to go to college and be an important part of space exploration and the colonization of Mars,” said Marcos Nunez, teacher and founder of the Aerospace Academy Mexico.

Mexican filmmaker Alex Moreno produced a seven-minute documentary titled “Apizaco” and used portions of the Johnson Skype presentation and academy event with Woodfill. The documentary features a team of students, led by Nunez, who competed in NASA’s Mars Trekker Global Teen Summit competition in the summer of 2015.

“They won three of the six categories [and] competed against 120 kids from around the world,” Deputy Director of the Mexican Space Agency Guillermo Castro said. “I guess the fact that they come from such an isolated place, nobody told them they couldn’t do it—so literally they reached for the stars.”

Recently, Moreno entered the “Apizaco” documentary in third annual CineSpace 2017 competition sponsored by the Houston Cinema Arts Society and NASA. CineSpace is a short film competition that offers filmmakers around the world a chance to share their works inspired by and using actual NASA imagery.
Among 650 entries from filmmakers worldwide, “Apizaco” documentary received the Film Best Depicting the Benefits of Space to Humanity award.

“It’s about showing the thousands of success stories of our country that are, in rare exceptions, overshadowed by sensationalism and bad news,” Moreno said.

Interested in becoming an ambassador for NASA or inspiring the next generation? See more opportunities here.

Brazosport ISD tweet

The Brazosport Independent School District in Texas tweets its appreciation for STEM outreach by Speakers Bureau volunteer and former Apollo engineer Jerry Woodfill.


Glenda Johnson
NASA Johnson Space Center
Woodfill's Skype session with students in Apizaco, Mexico, makes it into social media.
Image courtesy of the Mexican Space Agency.