Teachers Learn Real-Life Lesson From NASA Engineers

NASA engineers have been designing and building Space Shuttle external fuel tanks at the Michoud Plant in New Orleans for nearly 30 years. It's work that demands precision mathematical formulas.

"Mathematics plays a role in a 100 percent of what we do here in our daily activities," NASA engineer Rick Spring said.

"We build a vehicle that's a 154 feet long, 28 feet in diameter, consists of a half-million separate parts, and each one has a very specific function," Communications Director Marion LaNasa said. "The math and the dynamics and the weight are very critical to its performance."

Engineers at the plant invited South Mississippi math teachers to tour its assembly plant and to show them how math plays a key role in doing their jobs. The goal is to show these teachers how important math is to designing and assembling these tanks so they can relay the information to their students with first-hand knowledge.

"It's critical these days, because there are fewer and fewer students who are following the pursuit of math science and engineering and basically they're our future work force," LaNasa said.

Teachers left the tour encouraged about their role in educating children.

"I can bring this back into the classroom and open their minds," Gulfport Central Middle School teacher. "It can go beyond just the text book, just really give them a bigger picture of what they're learning right there in the classroom."

NASA engineers hope get young students excited about a career in math, science and engineering, and in turn guarantee that in the future, others engineers will be around to take their place.