Avatar Meets NASA Superman at Miami Science Museum 5/21/11

Saturday, May 21st at 10 a.m
Miami Science Museum
3280 South Miami Avenue
Miami, FL 33129.

NASA Astronaut Leland D. Melvin to lead presentation in Miami Science Museum’s NASA funded Youth EXPO Virtual World Island

Pro-football-player-turned-multi-mission-astronaut (an all-around Superman), Leland D. Melvin will meet and talk with museum-mentored high school students in a computer-generated, 3-D environment created by students on the Miami Science Museum’s Virtual World Island in Teen Second Life on Saturday, May 21st at 10 a.m. Using avatars that they have created, youth will interact with Mr. Melvin’s avatar, who will talk about his passion for science, lend insight into his career path, and answer students’ questions.

Young people interacting with such a powerful role model through this computer- simulated world is a revolutionary new way of making the presentation more engaging, deepening their science knowledge and making the students more comfortable asking questions of the speaker. The presentation will be broadcast in the virtual world and projected in the Museum’s Theater so that the public can observe the virtual event and also participate through an avatar.

The secondary purpose of the event is to showcase Youth EXPO, an educational resource based on NASA’s climate visualizations. Youth EXPO is available to other on-line visitors to the Museum’s island where they can investigate the causes and repercussions of climate change.

The “Youth EXPO” youth-development program, funded by NASA’s Competitive Program for Science Museums and Planetariums, serves as a model program to engage underrepresented minorities in science. The high school students serve as evaluators and testers of the climate change simulation.

“We feel so privileged that Mr. Melvin has selected our program to ‘visit’ and know it will be an interesting and inspiring event for all,” said Dr. Judy Brown, the Miami Science Museum’s Senior Vice President for Education. “This is a great opportunity to share with the public what wonderful work NASA is funding within our youth community.”

Leland D. Melvin joined NASA in 1989 as an aerospace engineer at the agency’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, VA. He joined the astronaut corps in 1998 and has served as a mission specialist on two space shuttle missions. In 2003, Melvin co-managed the former Educator Astronaut Program, which recruited teachers to become fully trained astronauts in an effort to connect space exploration with students across the country.

Mr. Melvin was named the associate administrator for education at NASA Headquarters in October 2010. He is responsible for the development and implementation of NASA’s education programs. As a passionate advocate of science education, he has been developing strategies to improve NASA’s education offerings and to assist in establishing goals, processes and evaluation techniques to implement a sustainable and innovative Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) program. He is a two-time space shuttle astronaut and flew on missions STS-122 and STS-129 in 2008 and 2009, respectively. Prior to joining NASA, Mr. Melvin played in the National Football League for the Detroit Lions and the Dallas Cowboys.