Avatar Meets Superman

Astronaut Leland Melvin's avatar prepares to meet with students in Second Life.

Astronaut Leland Melvin's avatar prepares to meet with students in Second Life.

Leland D. Melvin, NASA Associate Administrator for Education, will meet and talk with museum-mentored high school students in a computer-generated, 3-D environment created by students on the Miami Science Museum’s virtual world island in Second Life. Using avatars that they have created, youth will interact with Mr. Melvin’s avatar, who will talk about his passion for science, lend insight into his career path, and answer students’ questions.

Young people interacting with such a powerful role model through this computer- simulated world is a revolutionary new way of making the presentation more engaging, deepening their science knowledge and making the students more comfortable asking questions of the speaker.  The presentation will be broadcast to students in the virtual world and projected in the Science Museum’s Theater so that the public can observe the virtual event and also participate through an avatar.

Leland D. Melvin joined NASA in 1989 as an aerospace engineer at the agency’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, VA. He joined the astronaut corps in 1998 and has served as a mission specialist on two space shuttle missions. In 2003, Melvin co-managed the former Educator Astronaut Program, which recruited teachers to become fully trained astronauts in an effort to connect space exploration with students across the country.

Mr. Melvin was named the associate administrator for education at NASA Headquarters in October 2010.  He is responsible for the development and implementation of NASA’s education programs. As a passionate advocate of science education, he has been developing strategies to improve NASA’s education offerings and to assist in establishing goals, processes and evaluation techniques to implement a sustainable and innovative Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) program.  He is a two-time space shuttle astronaut and flew on missions STS-122 and STS-129 in 2008 and 2009, respectively.  Prior to joining NASA, Mr. Melvin played in the National Football League for the Detroit Lions and the Dallas Cowboys.

Date: May 21, 2011

Time: 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM EDT

Location: Miami Science Museum and SL: NASA Region

7 Comments

  • By Judy, May 19, 2011 @ 3:30 pm

    Can’t wait this is going to be a great event!

  • By Alyssa, May 19, 2011 @ 5:41 pm

    I’m looking forward to it(:

  • By Catherine, May 19, 2011 @ 6:03 pm

    Leland Melvin has a pretty hefty resume, but what I think makes him uniquely qualified to speak on this is the fact that in interviews, he presents himself as a regular guy who had good grades where it counted.
    With the Shuttle program drawing to a close, a lot of commentators ask, “what next?” This. Education and science are what NASA has always excelled at.

  • By BrianM, May 19, 2011 @ 6:11 pm

    This should be interesting. Melvin seems to be a great example of how you don’t have to be nerdy to pursue a math/science career.

    (Not that nerdy is bad.)

  • By Amy, May 21, 2011 @ 11:23 am

    That was AWESOME to have everyone in world together! The UB kids at the Museum were really engaged and inspired by him as well as interested in the virtual world itself.

  • By mystic, May 21, 2011 @ 12:19 pm

    In my opinion Leland Melvin was a great speaker. He kept me entertained. I also learned a lot about life in space and how it affected him as a person and his life.

  • By jessica, May 21, 2011 @ 12:23 pm

    Today’s presentation was excellent, learning about Leland’s impact on his decision in life and how he lived his friend’s legacy in continuing on becoming an astronaut.

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