2019 K-12 STEM Symposium Speaker Spotlight: Astronaut Sandy Magnus on her STEM to Space Journey

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Sandra Magnus assembles the GPS antenna in the Destiny lab of the International Space Station. Photo: NASA

Astronaut and fan favorite Sandra Magnus will return to WashingtonExec’s K-12 STEM Symposium next month to speak about how passion and curiosity jumpstarted her STEM career.

Magnus spoke most recently at the 2016 STEM Symposium, highlighting how her interests in physics and electrical engineering led her to become an astronaut. Born in a small Illinois town, Magnus was a curious child who always asked “why?” She would go on to spend five-and-a-half months in space over three different flight missions.

“The moral of the story is you don’t know what you don’t know about what might excite your passion and your interest,” Magnus said. “As you go through your life . . .  you suddenly see a whole other range of choices. The world gets expanded more and more.”

A former executive director of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Magnus sought to expose young students to the possibilities of STEM education. She also advocates for the need for more women in the space sector.

Magnus is the recipient of numerous awards, including the NASA Space Flight Medal, the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, the NASA Exceptional Service Medal, and the 40 at 40 Award, given to former collegiate women athletes to recognize the impact of Title IX.

Themed “The Power of Curiosity,” this year’s STEM Symposium takes place March 30. The event is presented by Riverside Research, a nonprofit R&D organization for the Defense Department and the intelligence community, and aims to better link classroom learning with today’s science and technology capabilities.

Other speakers include:

  • Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology junior Kirthi Kumar, winner of last year’s STEM Rising Star Award, and founder of SheSoft, which seeks to bridge the gender gap in STEM
  • Dr. Tinell Priddy, STEM educator and inaugural principal of The Academies of Loudoun
  • TJHSST Principal and STEM leader Dr. Ann Bonitatibus

This year’s interactive showcases will include flight simulators, drones and physics experiments. Over 50 exhibitors from nonprofit, government, academia and business will attend. Past attendees included the Smithsonian, NASA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Transportation Department and the Children’s Science Center.

WashingtonExec is hosting the annual K-12 STEM Symposium on March 30, 2019. The event is free and open to the public, but attendees are asked to register in advance.