A p r i l  W h i t t
Astronomy educator, Atlanta

April Whitt has worked on education and outreach at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago, and was selected by the National Science Foundation to travel to the South Pole in 1993-1994. She's on staff at Fernbank, the only major science center in America operated by a school district. In 1995 she became a FOSTER teacher, participating in a 10-day workshop at NASA Ames on the KAO and infrared astronomy. She will serve as LFS's "Educator in the Stratosphere" for the live observing missions.

April says, "I grew up in rural New York state and my father built a telescope when we were children. I got hooked on the beauty of astronomy - the lunar craters, the rings of Saturn - and had a dark enough sky to learn some constellations. I remember watching the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo launches on tv in the cafeteria of our grade school, and thinking that was the most exciting time to be alive.

"At Fredonia State University where I did undergraduate work, I gave programs in a small planterium, sharing the delight in the night sky with others, and learned about an internship at Morehead Planetarium in Chapel Hill, NC.

"That internship and completing a master's degree in education was a great experience. I worked with teachers and students from all grade levels. The observatory there allowed us to show people the lunar craters again, and it was during the years there that the Voyagers reached Jupiter and Saturn, sending back exciting close-up pictures.

"Astronomy brings all the different sciences together. And it's beautiful, as well as new information coming in that you get to put together. I think of it as a puzzle, science as the ultimate detective story, trying to figure out where something came from, how it got that way, or what's going to happen next. Every time some new instrument becomes available for scientists to use, there's a whole bunch of new questions that come up from it.

"That's my favorite part of teaching: Being able to find out something neat in science and making it available to the teachers and students here in DeKalb County. I want to be able to say to kids that come to Fernbank Science Center, "If you want to badly enough, you can do anything you want in science or just about anything else, and here's some information to get you started."

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