I think I was always interested in how things worked -- most toys got taken apart and
put back together many times before they actually got "played with." Once I was old
enough not to hurt myself, I started building and flying model rockets and gas-powered
model airplanes. I was always building plastic models (planes, cars, boats...), as well.
I probably read every science fiction and astronomy book to be found in my public and
school libraries. It was a real struggle for my teachers and parents to get me to pay
attention to other topics, such as history and English and such. Once I got to high
school, I also spent a lot of time working with photography (both the camera and the
darkroom ends of things); that led me to be the photographer for the high school newspaper
and yearbook, which probably did more than anything to expand my interests beyond "space
My advice to students is to get as broad an education as possible early on -- you'll
have time in college to start specializing. If you want to pursue a career in space
science, certainly you'll need lots of math and physics as a prelude to either
engineering or astronomy or planetary geology. Probably the most important thing as you
think about a career is to find something you really enjoy, then try to follow your heart!