Commander’s Report 12 Dec 2019 Shannon Rupert Today I had the fifth grade experience I never had when I was in the fifth grade. I make a Space War alarm using a circuit set. I planted a plant in Martian soil. And I made a rocket. A real one. That worked and everything. I needed a hell of a lot of help to get it fashioned out of the bits and pieces of paper and plastic in the kit, and I got glue on my fingers and remembered how much I hated that, but in the end it was a stylish retro rocket with a shimmering copper body and a silver cone on top. At the end of the day I watched as it soared straight up, fire lighting its way. It was very satisfying, and even though I’m not a fan of the STEM movement, I have to admit I am grateful now that kids get to experience these things, because I would have loved them as a fifth grader, and I’m not going to lie, I loved them today. It’s been an inspiring week. For years, I have wanted to develop a program to support and foster relationships among K-12 teachers here at MDRS. I wanted to be able to bring them here and give them the opportunity to explore new ways to connect themselves with space, and in an extension of that, connect their kids with space. Thanks to support from the Utah NASA Space Grant Consortium I was able to do that, when they funded my proposal for a NASA Spaceward Bound Utah (NSBU) program. And then, as a bonus, it all went better than planned. I couldn’t have asked for better teachers to inspire me and confirm that there is magic when you bring together good teachers. Hope, Jen, Teresa, Cynthia, Ann and Kevin have the right stuff. Amazingly generous, filled with enthusiasm for space and a love for teaching, they made me realize how good the world really is, that these people are the ones working, against all odds really, to inspire this newest generation to touch the stars, to not only dream about becoming a space-faring species, but to understand that is it possible, and that they have within them the tools to make it happen. Really good teachers are the most valuable asset our children have. And this team of Alpha-T, first cohort of NSBU, are the best!