Costa Rica was featured at the Space Exploration Educators Conference (SEEC2020) at the Space Center in Houston, Texas earlier this month.
A presentation from Sandra Cauffman — a Tica who is director of the Earth Science Division at NASA — alongside authors Bruce Callow and Ana Luisa Monge-Naranjo, introduced an audience of educators about Costa Rica’s involvement in space programs.
Their session focused on how to engage Hispanic youth to pursue STEM careers.
“Kids can’t be what they can’t see,” Cauffman said. “People have to have a name for ‘something,’ to understand the change it represents, and recognize it as desirable. They have to have examples to accepting it and taking steps to get there.”
The presentation also served to highlight Callow and Monge’s book, “To the Stars: Costa Rica in NASA,” which tells the stories of a dozen Ticos, including Cauffman, who have represented the country at NASA.
“Having role models such as the ones outlined in the book is all about putting a name to that ‘something,’ ” Cauffman said. “Our session provided tools for teachers to discuss these ‘something’ scenarios to describe potential futures and identify desired outcomes.
“The books is very clear about the role models and the future we created on how we achieved it. We all took different paths, but one common thread to all is that we never gave up.”
Callow, a Tico Times contributor, said it was the first time he had attended the Space Exploration Educators Conference and that Cauffman had made a “great impression” on the educators who attended their session.
“The common theme is we try to get students to focus on what steps they need to take in their lives for them to achieve what they want to achieve,” he said. “We use the Costa Rican NASA people as concrete examples.”