What the #NASATweetup Taught Me

In May I was fortunate to have been selected to participate in NASA’s social media tweetup program. This program, which began in 2009, brings together fans of science, space, aeronautics, geography (and related sciences) to experience, in depth, all that NASA offers in terms of research, exploration, and technological advancement. These events have taken place at the Kennedy Space Center, the Johnson Space Center, the Goddard Space Flight Center as well as the World Science Festival and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. My husband was ‘in’ on an early tweetup for the Solar Dynamics Observatory Launch at KSC and you can read more about it here.

A tweetup involves experiencing NASA programs in depth – whether it is talks from NASA employees and contractors, to Q&A sessions with current and former astronauts, as well as behind the scenes access to programs and events like Space Shuttle and unmanned rocket launches. It is a rare opportunity to meet an international diverse crowd of social media users that span the range from astrophysicists and space workers to science teachers and home-schooling moms, computer programmers, engineers and pilots, to the kind of people that dress up for Comicon and Star Wars conventions 😉 .

Sure, it’s a thrilling experience meeting all these folks, learning more about their (and my) passion for space and technology, but why did it touch me in such a deep way? Let me give you a little history…

Back in the day, I was a science geek. One of the few girls in higher level high school science courses and even in college, once past the mandatory science classes. I grew up loving Cousteau specials on TV and National Geographic documentaries. I wanted to be a veterinarian. All was going well until I hit a brick wall labeled Organic Chemistry. Running into the wall kind of killed the dream. I worked for a chemical company after college, then moved into computers (sales, documentation, training, etc.).

I still watched NOVA, Nature and read up on science and was enthusiastic about NASA and space and scifi. But, honestly, it wasn’t the same and it didn’t feel like *me*.

The NASA tweetup changed that – it made me realize that although one dream died, that didn’t mean all of them had to. Taking my love of science and my skill at communication I could share a love of science, invention and exploration with my son, family and friends, my followers and friends in social media and I could make it real for them. Am I a non-stop spewer of science? No, of course not. I still love all the things I glommed onto in lieu of a career in the hard sciences, but instead of being a thing of the past for me, it’s back to being a part of who I am and what I like to do.

Thanks, NASA.