On a day the nation remembered the life and legacy of Neil Armstrong, a NASA engineer built enthusiasm among local students who could be the astronauts of the future.
In introducing her, Moore teacher Ross Baker told students why her presentation was relevant.
“This space suit is a representation of how math, science and technology come together in the real world,” said Baker, who teaches a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) class on campus. “She gets to apply math and science very day on her job.”
Ms. Jennings shared about past space programs and how the suit has evolved. Students got a close-up look at the extravehicular mobility unit, or EMU.
The unit is the space suit astronauts wore when they were outside the space shuttle on a spacewalk, which typically lasted from six to eight hours.
Ms. Jennings showed the students an interior garment that helped cool the astronauts, a communication carrier assembly called a “Snoopy Cap” that allowed them to communicate with the rest of the crew in space and at Mission Control Center in Houston.
The helmet featured several visors astronauts could pull down to filter out the sun’s rays. The first full visor was coated with a thin layer of 24-karat gold to filter out the sun’s rays, according to the NASA website.
The hard upper torso featured a fiberglass shell that covered the chest and back, protecting the organs. This shell served as the connection point for the rest of the suit pieces such as helmet, arms, pants and the lower part of the waist closure.
The Portable Life Support System included oxygen, water-cooling equipment, batteries, and a carbon dioxide removal system, among other things. It was worn much like a backpack and the astronauts controlled it through a module on the front of the suit.
“This is what’s keeping them alive,” Ms. Jennings said.
Different color stripes on the pants and life support system helped distinguish between the different spacewalkers.
The shoes had no real tread on them to serve as a grip because the astronauts weren’t walking. However, they could lock in to a snowboard-type device so they could work freely without having to hold on to an object with their hands to stabilize themselves.
She shared with them about future suits including the Mark III and the Rear Entry I-suit, the latter of which is all cloth and has no hard parts.
She said there are about 12 prototype suits and they are taking pieces from each to incorporate it into the new suit.
Seventh-grader Areeba Haji, 12, was one of a small group of girls to have lunch with Ms. Jennings and talk to her about her life and career.
“What I found most interesting was how many careers there can be in NASA,” said Areeba, who wants to be a heart surgeon when she grows up. “You can … (be a) doctor, designer, engineer.”
Seventh-grader Josh Johnston, 12, said the presentation was really cool.
“I thought it was really interesting how we got to learn the evolution of the space suit, the way it works,” he said.
He said it was also neat to see the photos of the new space suit that NASA is developing.
Baker met Ms. Jennings when he attended a weeklong training session at NASA through the Texas Middle School Aerospace Scholars Program.
He said his goal in bringing her to Moore was that students see real life examples of how what they’re learning in school is used on a daily basis.
In addition, he said, he also wanted them to see the exciting careers available to them that use math and science.
Ms. Jennings said she loves her job and wants to inspire more students to go into the field. But, she’s also OK if they don’t.
“I think it’s just realizing that you don’t have to fit in (to) the cookie cutter thing,” she said. “You can do whatever it is you (want) to do.”