My entire career was both answering environmental questions using statistics or data mining large databases to understand and ultimately improve situations. In other words, I did a great deal of math! I enjoyed the work very much because I was very proficient in my field.
However, since I have been retired, I have left the field of mathematics and focused on a hobby of designing patches. The rewards of helping others have been outstanding. One teacher, Tanya Anderson, has brought me two projects that have excited me more than others. This is the email I received from Tanya four years ago:
“I don’t know if you remember me, you designed soapbox derby patches for my son’s Cub Scout Pack last year. I have a new project I am working on and I am wondering if you will be able to help.
I am a teacher at a Catholic school in Lisle. I along with 3 of my colleagues have been chosen as one of 7 educator teams from across the country to participate in a special program at NASA this summer where we get to design an experiment and then fly our experiment on NASA’s zero gravity airplane. Part of our program is getting all of the students in our school involved in different aspects of our experiment and flight preparation. As one of our activities we wanted to do a mission patch design contest with our students, since all NASA missions have their own patches. We were hoping then to have the winning student design actually made into patches that we could wear on our flight and also pass out to some of our students.
I immediately thought of you since you did such an awesome job on our scout patches. I was hoping I could scan in the winning student design and you would be able to create something close to it.” An article in the Chicago Tribune describes more about the project, http://tinyurl.com/MicroGXcycle2
My response to Tanya’s request was, “Wow, I would love to help. Certainly, you and your colleagues deserve a big congratulations!” From the four winning designs submitted by the students, I created the final patch below.
At the beginning of this year, Tanya once again was teaming up with NASA for a school-wide project, along with a creating a “Mission Patch.” The name of the project is NASA Microgravity University for Educators or NASA MgUE for short. The NASA website is: https://microgravityuniversity.jsc.nasa.gov/theProgram/micro-g-ue/.
Again, Tanya had the students submit designs for the patch and I took the winning components and created a patch for this year’s project.
Being able to help two such worthwhile projects brings me a great deal of satisfaction. What these teachers are doing for our young ones will only make them better adults and possibly better scientists.
Craig Murray, Ph.D. Research Scientist