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Apollo Remembered: STEM/STEAM Inspiration

Apollo 11This is the year of several 50th Anniversaries of the Apollo Project Moon landing in 1969. This 1961-1972 adventure is remembered for its uniqueness in tackling one of the most courageous, challenging and forward-thinking initiatives in the 20th century – manned flights to the Moon, orbit, landing, re-docking, and safe return to the USA. It also became a unique opportunity for a wide variety of experts to come together and collaborate on a biosystem in space. Tackling this endeavor resulted in important advances in technology, aeronautics, astronautics, electronic communication, biologics, nutrition, weightlessness – just to name a few.

Since President Kennedy’s famous speech to a joint session of Congress [1], May 25, 1961, I was glued to the TV news and specials as a devotee of the Apollo Project. I was a beginning first grade teacher. My husband was a mathematical physicist on the team that kept track of the moon. We wanted to orbit – not fly by into the infinite unknown and not crash into it at full speed. We were dealing with a moving target and the thing that made it exciting was that we were shooting at it with a spacecraft carrying humans. I remember vividly sitting in a small apartment with a group of friends with a small black and white TV watching and anticipating the Apollo 11 landing [2].  

Education changed as children saw new heroes in astronauts, engineers, astronomers, physicists, mathematicians, physicians, nutritionists, waste management specialists. etc. The recent STEM/STEAM initiatives have helped inspire students and, I hope, will include studies in these areas and remembrance of the Apollo Project.

Front row Apollo-nauts

Photo Credit: Draper Lab

Last December 18, 2018 my husband and I were invited by Draper Lab and WGBH to attend the NOVA  Apollo’s Daring Mission [3] screening. We attended with friends and also visited with colleagues who worked at the NASA labs in  Massachusetts, Florida, and Texas. Those who worked on the Apollo Project have been dubbed Apollonauts, and we could sit in reserved seating up front.

Feel the excitement and share it with your students! There are many wonderful groups in social media with an amazing amount of links to historical websites related to the Apollo Project. Here are a few:

Hack the Moon

Our mission is to tell the story of the engineers that guided humans to the moon and back. #hackthemoon  [4]
Hack the Moon on Twitter [5], Facebook [6] and Instagram [7]

Apollo 11 Anniversary [8]

Draper Lab [9]

Beverly has served on the MassCUE Board of Directors since 1996. She was a first grade teacher at the Memorial and Pine Glen Elementary Schools in Burlington from 1964 to 1984. Following that, she was Technology Integration Specialist and Computer Teacher at Marshall Simonds Middle School in Burlington. Since retiring in 2008, she has continued to support the mission of MassCUE. Currently she serves as the Chair of Bylaws, Policies and Procedures Committee and the Elections Committee. She is a member of the Development and Outreach Committee. In the past she has served as chair and member of several other standing and ad hoc committees.


– Beverly Reber ( )