From STEM to the Stars’: NMSI Brings Astronauts and STEM education to the public at Martha’s Vineyard

Former Astronauts Bernard Harris, Jr. and Leland Melvin join forces with National Math and Science Initiative, Blue Origin, and RTX to bring STEM education, space, and history to Martha’s Vineyard

The National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI) announces ‘From STEM to the Stars’, an event to inspire, educate and celebrate the wonders of STEM, space exploration and the history of human spaceflight. Hosted by distinguished astronauts Bernard Harris, Jr. and Leland Melvin, along with esteemed partners Blue Origin and RTX, the event is open to the public on August 4-5, 2023 at Waban Park in Martha’s Vineyard.

“At NMSI, our mission is to transform education and propel students toward successful careers in STEM fields. We are thrilled to partner with esteemed astronauts Bernard Harris, Jr. and Leland Melvin, as well as Blue Origin and RTX, to bring this exceptional event to Martha’s Vineyard,” said Nichole Austion, Vice President of Public Affairs at NMSI.

The event will feature former astronauts Leland Melvin, Bernard Harris, Jr., Joan Higginbotham and Charlie Bolden, along with current astronaut Victor Glover. Special guest Ed Dwight, the first Black individual accepted into the astronaut training program, will also be a part of this unforgettable experience.

The centerpiece of the event will be the awe-inspiring Blue Origin New Shepard Crew Capsule, an iconic symbol of modern space exploration. Attendees can explore a replica of the space capsule that has journeyed beyond Earth, paving the way for future space endeavors.

In addition, the event will feature enlightening and engaging panel discussions to include:

  • Fireside chat with RTX executives Earl Exum and Erich Hernandez-Baquero about their experiences in the aerospace industry.
  • An astronaut experience and Blue Origin panel, featuring Ed Dwight, the first Black astronaut candidate, providing a unique perspective on the journey to space.
  • A STEM Education Panel with Leland Melvin, offering insights into the boundless possibilities of STEM education.
  • A STEM Careers panel hosted by Blue Origin and its nonprofit, Club for the Future, focused on the importance of building a diverse space workforce and inspiring the next generation, featuring Ed Dwight and Blue Origin’s Audrey Powers, Vice President of Mission & Flight Operations, and Jarrett Jones, Senior Vice President of New Glenn.

To foster a passion for science and exploration among the younger generation, the event will include:

  • An interactive STEM Kids zone filled with captivating STEM-related activities, including a Postcards to Space station hosted by Club for the Future
  • A screening of NASA film “The Color of Space” recognizing current and former Black astronauts who have traveled to the stars
  • An immersive virtual experience including real-time collaborative 3D interactions
  • A ‘moon shot’ activity where kids can fly a foam airplane to different parts of the moon
  • Rockets and Racecars fireside chat with NASA

“The exploration of space opens doors to limitless opportunities and fosters a spirit of curiosity and discovery,” said Bernard Harris, Jr., “Through this event, we aim to ignite the same passion for learning and exploration that has driven us as astronauts throughout our careers.”

“Education is the foundation for reaching new frontiers,” added Leland Melvin, astronaut and advocate for STEM education. ”Together with NMSI, Blue Origin and RTX, we strive to inspire the next generation to aim higher and push boundaries further in the name of innovation and exploration.”

For more information about ‘From STEM to the Stars,’ visit

The American Consortium for Equity in Education, publisher of the "Equity & Access" journal, celebrates and connects the educators, associations, community partners and industry leaders who are working to solve problems and create a more equitable environment for historically underserved pre K-12 students throughout the United States.

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