Follow your dreams in 2014
Happy New Year! ’Tis the season for dreaming of what might be. It’s also a time when a lot of us decide to make some changes. According to the University of Scranton Journal of Clinical Psychology, as reported on statisticbrain.com, the top 10 resolutions are: 1. Lose weight; 2. Get organized; 3. Spend less, save more; 4. Enjoy life to the fullest; 5. Stay fit and healthy; 6. Learn something exciting; 7. Quit smoking; 8. Help others in their dreams; 9. Fall in love; and 10. Spend more time with family.
Unfortunately, only eight percent of people who make resolutions are successful in achieving them, and those who don’t usually abandon them after just one week. Experts feel that the reason for the failure of these resolutions is that most people do not back their resolution with proper planning. A few weeks ago, I learned about a group of local students who have been rewarded for dreaming big and backing those dreams up with plenty of commitment, study and planning. Six students from Laker Junior High — Chandler Furness, Hannah Hammond, Sarah Hammond, Chelsey Katshor, Halle Keim and Nick Wolschager — envisioned and designed an experiment that will land their work in the International Space Station. The catchy title of their project, “The Effect of Microgravity on Calcium Absorption by Bones,” reflects the fact that they are doing serious research. The ferry vehicle for the experiment, which I watched take off on Thursday, Jan. 9, was an Antares rocket and Cygnus spacecraft configuration.
You might be surprised to hear that such a group of junior high students from the Thumb were able to hitch a ride for their experiment on a rocket to learn how to help astronauts avoid bone density loss (a serious problem for long-term space flights and for our aging population). However, I have come to learn that students across the Thumb of Michigan have been doing remarkable things that unfortunately too often go unnoticed.
In this case, the National Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) presented the opportunity. Huron Intermediate School District Outreach Facilitator Scott Whipple and Laker Elementary School Principal Kathy Dickens offered their services as county program advisers, and Laker Junior High teacher Diana Schulz volunteered her services without pay as a teacher facilitator. Dr. Jason Scott from Saginaw Valley State University, who is also volunteering his time, will be completing the ground analysis. The real work, however, was the brainchild of the students themselves, who completed all the work outside of class time and throughout the summer.
I understand that nationally, more than 3,000 students were fully engaged in experiment design, and only 11 proposals were selected for this flight. Did I mention that students through grade 14 were eligible to compete? These Thumb students, now in eighth grade, started their work in the seventh grade.
There was a time, back in the 1960s, when I dreamed of being an astronaut. I loved astronomy and was fascinated by Kennedy’s challenge to land a man on the moon, but I never followed through on that dream. But others from this area did, including Cass City’s Brewster Shaw. Shaw was pilot of space shuttle Columbia in November 1983, commander of space shuttle Atlantis in November 1985, and commander of Columbia in August 1989. Although Shaw broke the bonds of gravity, he is but one example of many local people, equipped with a supportive community, a good education and a good work ethic, who have refused to be held down and found a way to break free of the restraints so many feel are insurmountable.
In their congratulatory letter to the students, the National SSEP Team wrote, “So from one generation of researchers to you, that next generation, we say … reflect on your journey, and be proud…”
Who knows — maybe our communities are ushering in the next generation of people who can make any American Dream a reality. Remember, no dream is too big for someone who is willing to work on that belief, and that a new year’s resolution is nothing more than a commitment to yourself. May the power of your desire and your word be ever so strong this year that you may realize the profound blessings of keeping such commitments. Here’s to the very best of your desires for 2014.