Showcasing Women in Space with NASA Astronaut Dr. Kate Rubins

The end of 2022 has been a whirlwind of activity and planning. While most people were winding down for the Christmas and New year break, the team at STEM Wana Trust was ramping up and working hard to ensure that we pulled off one of our most ambitious initiatives to date. Delivering on a STEM in the Community series of events with a roadshow featuring a NASA Astronaut!

On a personal level, I have ticked off many achievement badges as part of this project:

Get to work with the force of nature that is Janet Van Jenkins
Collaborate and deliver an event with NASA
Meet a NASA Astronaut
Extend our reach beyond the Bay of Plenty
Get STEMFest featured on national TV
Connect with more awesome women in STEM

It’s been such a pleasure to work with Dr. Kate Rubins, an accomplished scientist and NASA Astronaut and introduce her to some of our STEM loving whānau. We pitched to her the idea of a road trip via the North Island, intentionally offering this unique opportunity to the smaller towns and communities – and she loved it. So, in just seven weeks and with the impending holidays looming, we hustled hard, got our lovely Coordinator Rachael prepped and got all the pieces in place to allow for activitations between 8-10 January 2023 in Palmerston North, Taupō, Rotorua, and culminating in a gala evening in Tauranga.

Panel at STEM Wana Trust x NASA event in Tauranga 10 January 2023. Featuring Janet Van Jenkins, Dr. Kate Rubins, Emma Comrie-Thomson, Kate Breach, and Dr. Sarah Kessans

Tia Lush and Dr. Kate Rubins at event in Tauranga New Zealand

Meeting and getting to spend some time with the very amazing Women in Space Aotearoa New Zealand Kate Breach, Emma Comrie-Thomson, CEnvP, and Dr. Sarah Kessans has been the icing on the cake for many of us (and you all know how much I love cake). The feedback from visitors from all locations has been “inspiring, incredible and mind-blowing”. Our headline sponsor Manawa Energy has just send through this message which sums it up so well “…seeing the incredible line up of inspiring woman on stage. And l don’t think we should underestimate the lasting impacts and impressions these types of events have on young people…”

You can see photos and read the event summaries on our blog:

I’m so proud of our team and our organisation. I’m also very grateful to the people who enable, keep me in check, AND have my back in equal measure, Amanda Crowther, Steven Vincent, and Erin Nicholson – they are the silent heroes.

So what’s coming up for us? How will we possibly top this? Well to be honest, I’m not sure, but could we take a wee break before we think about that please?

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