Scientific exploration and inspiring young people has been a life-long passion of Leland Melvin. Leland is the only person to be drafted into the NFL and to have actually flown in space. Today on Indy Style, Leland joins us live from Washington, D.C., along with Exploravision Winners, Lawrence and Dina.
More than just a student science competition
Since its inception in 1992, more than 350,000 students from across the United States and Canada have participated in Toshiba/NSTA ExploraVision. It’s a fun and engaging program that can inspire a lifelong love of science, technology and innovation for students and teachers alike.
What is ExploraVision?
The ExploraVision competition for K-12 students engages the next generation in real world problem solving with a strong emphasis on STEM. ExploraVision challenges students envision and communicate new technology 20 years in the future through collaborative brainstorming and research of current science and technology.
LELAND MELVIN BIO:
“Houston, we have a problem.” Leland Melvin was 25 feet under water in the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory, a 6 million gallon pool, training to perform spacewalks as a NASA astronaut when he called the test director and asked him to turn the volume up in his headset. He never heard a reply and was immediately hoisted out of the pool to learn that he was deaf. Emergency surgery resulting in only partial recovery to his hearing led him to being medically disqualified to fly in space by NASA flight surgeons. This is just one of the many career ending challenges Leland has overcome in his life. Before becoming an astronaut Leland was drafted by the Detroit Lions in the 1986 College Draft to play professional football but a hamstring injury thwarted his NFL career with Detroit and then later with the Dallas Cowboys. Hear his fascinating story of perseverance and how he ultimately traveled off-planet twice on Space Shuttle Atlantis to help build the International Space Station. Leland is the only person drafted into the National Football League to have flown in space. The Pro Football Hall of Fame honored his athletic and academic accomplishments by placing his Detroit Lions jersey under glass in Canton, Ohio. Through these professional experiences working on high stakes teams he developed a deep and nuanced understanding of effective team dynamics.
Leland has a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry and a master’s degree in materials science engineering. He worked at NASA Langley Research Center in the area of nondestructive testing creating optical fiber sensors for measuring damage in aerospace vehicles resulting in publications in numerous scientific journals. After hanging up his space boots he was appointed head of NASA Education and served as the co-chair on the White House’s Federal Coordination in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education Task Force developing the nation’s 5-year STEM education plan. Leland was the United States representative and chair of the International Space Education Board (ISEB), a global collaboration in space. He uses his life story as an athlete, astronaut, scientist, engineer, photographer, and musician to help inspire the next generation of explorers to pursue Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics (STEAM) careers. Leland was also recently seen as the host of the Lifetime competition series Child Genius and is currently seen as a judge for ABC’s competition series BattleBots.
Leland holds four honorary doctorates for his service in education, the sciences and philanthropy. He was chosen as an ICON MANN with Quincy Jones, Forrest Whitaker, Steve Harvey and 24 other men selected for their ability to inspire people of all ages through their vision and commitment to creating positive change throughout the world. Leland has been honored with the NFL Players Association “Award of Excellence” for inspiring athletes to pursue excellence on and off the field. He has written a chapter on the power of visualization in Venus Williams’ book Come to Win. Leland has appeared on Top Chef as a celebrity judge and Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmerman, while Cesar Milan helped him with his unruly pooch Jake on an episode of The Dog Whisperer. He was featured in a Sci Fi Channel program documenting the making of the “Reach for the Stars” will.i.am song, which was transmitted to Mars and back to inspire students to pursue STEAM. After 24 years with NASA as a researcher, astronaut and Senior Executive Service leader he looks to share his stories of perseverance and excellence to inspire communities for lasting positive change.
This May, Leland will release the memoir, Chasing Space: An Astronaut’s Story of Grit, Grace, and Second Chances. In Chasing Space, Leland shares his personal journey from the gridiron to the stars, and examine the intersecting roles of community, perseverance and grace that align to create the opportunities for success.
Leland currently resides in Lynchburg, Virginia.
ExploraVision is a science competition that goes beyond the typical student science competition and into what it takes to bring ideas to reality. A teacher will sponsor and lead his/her students as they work in groups of 2 – 4 to simulate real research and development. A teacher will guide his or her students as they pick a current technology, research it, envision what it might look like in 20 years, and describe the development steps, pros & cons, and obstacles. Past winners have envisioned technologies ranging from a hand-held food allergen detector to a new device to help people who have lost limbs regain movement in real time.
Who can participate?
ExploraVision is designed for K – 12 students of all interest, skill and ability levels. The competition is open to students enrolled in public, private or home school in the United States and Canada. See our full eligibility requirements here.
How do I get my students involved?
The most important step is educating them about the program. You can then either implement it as part of your curriculum or become a coach for the students who would like to participate. But if they don’t know about it they’ll never know if they want to register. See our Teacher Resources page for more information.
Why does Toshiba sponsor ExploraVision?
Toshiba was founded with a strong commitment to technological innovation, and this commitment goes hand in hand with the company’s passion for science education. Through Toshiba’s shared mission partnership with NSTA (National Science Teachers Association), the Toshiba/NSTA ExploraVision competition makes a vital contribution to the educational community. Participants are provided the opportunity to better understand the core disciplinary ideas in science, and engage in the scientific and engineering practices espoused in the Next Generation Science Standards, as they wrestle with solving real-world, authentic problems presented via the ExploraVision competition. ExploraVision is one of the world’s largest K-12 science competitions and is a cornerstone of Toshiba’s efforts to inspire youth in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
The National Science Teachers Association, founded in 1944 and headquartered in Arlington, Virginia, is the largest organization in the world committed to promoting excellence and innovation in science teaching and learning for all. NSTA’s current membership of 60,000 includes science teachers, science supervisors, administrators, scientists, business and industry representatives, and others involved in and committed to science education.
To learn more, visit www.exploravision.org.
SEGMENT IS SPONSORED BY TOSHIBA