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FHS Math Club hosts NASA engineer

by Curtis Hayes, Director of Communications

The Franklinton High School Math Club hosted NASA’s Wendy Morgenstern on Thursday, September 3rd for a video meeting that investigated the many ways math and science can contribute to space exploration.

Morgenstern has been an aerospace engineer and lead mission systems specialist with NASA for more than 30 years. Her current assignment is with NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland near Washington, D.C. She specializes in building science satellites and talked about NASA’s goal to return to the moon in 2024.

The students who participated in the video conference had many insightful questions that were not restricted to just math or science. When asked about how she chose her career with NASA, Morgenstern said it all started during her high school days.

“I fell in love with physics,” Morgenstern said.

She described physics as putting math into action. In her career designing science satellites, math and physics are part of her everyday responsibilities. However, she said students don’t necessarily need to major in math or science to work at NASA. The federal agency also employs a wide-variety of skilled workers in specialties other than math and science, such as welding, photography and archives to name just a few.

She said if she wasn’t a NASA engineer, she would have been a writer. When asked about the hardest part of job, as well as the most enjoyable, her answer – surprisingly – was not math or science.

“It’s the people and communications,” Morgenstern said.

The NASA engineer is a favorite presenter of the math club, which meets every Thursday at 2:58 p.m., either online – like now during remote learning – or in person as future conditions will hopefully allow.

“The mission of the math club is to spread the joy and wonder of mathematics,” said James Wagner, FHS math teacher and club advisor. “Math is everywhere.”

Although the club is comprised mostly of math students who attend FHS, Wagner said that everyone is welcome.

“You don’t have to be good at math,” he added. “You just have to have an interest.”

Math club members do more than listen and talk, they also put their knowledge into action to help the greater Franklin County Schools community. For the past six years, for example, the Math Club has been a partner of UNC Morehead Planetarium and Novozymes, volunteering during STEMville Family Science Nights. In fact, Math Club students have volunteered more than 1,400 hours during STEMville and other activities, such as the 5th grade math competition its’ members research, develop, implement and continue to operate each year. Club members also participate in math competitions across the state, region and internationally.

For more information about the FHS Math Club, contact Mr. Wagner at jameswagner@fcschools.net or check out the club’s website at: www.fhsmathclub.weebly.com

 

A screenshot of a video meeting

A screenshot of the recent Math Club video meeting featuring NASA Engineer Wendy Morgenstern.

 

An adult male teacher seated at a desk in classroom

FHS Math Club advisor James Wagner. Club "math-scot" "Al-go-rithm" the math bee is perched in the upper right corner.