Thomas Nolan (pictured at left) was one of three Visiting Researchers that traveled to Martinsville, VA, in April 2004. Also pictured is one of the 2,000 students (and his teacher) visited by the researchers through 60 Classroom Visit presentations. The conversation in the photo took place after one of Tom’s presentations. Look at the student’s face. It is an expression of awe and wonderment. To understand why, you need to know the story Tom imparted to the class.
Tom is an oceanographer from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California. During his career, he has trained dolphins, done killer whale research, spent many months over several years at an island marine laboratory and on research cruises from French Polynesia to Hawaii, along the coasts of California and Mexico, and in the Aleutian Islands. His remarkable career then took him to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory because satellites revolutionized the science of oceanography and he wanted to stay on the cutting edge.
Wouldn’t you be in awe of this? The student in the picture may well have considered Tom his hero that day. That’s at least one of our goals. But inspiration is not enough. Tom opened a window of curiosity in this child, and that needs to be followed up with a commitment to real and ongoing educational experiences and opportunities. This is why the Journey through the Universe Team is committed to program sustainability, providing ongoing resources to teachers and the larger community so they may continue the journey for their children.