How hands-on learning fires up your brain

To strengthen your mind, work with your hands, says former astronaut Leland Melvin.

Videos
  • Learning is a mental and physical pursuit, says retired astronaut Leland Melvin.
  • Recalling his childhood, Melvin explains how working with his dad to turn a $500 bread truck into a family RV camper ultimately made him a better astronaut, able to maneuver the $2-billion dollar Columbus Laboratory out of the payload bay of a shuttle and attach it to the International Space Station.
  • Experiential learning — like hands-on DIY, engineering kits, and Duplo games — wires your brain for problem solving from a young age. It's a leg-up we can all give to the children in our lives.
  • "[W]hen we let [kids] build and create and it's meaningful and it helps them solve a problem, that gets them thinking about how they can be change makers themselves and how they can be scientists and engineers," says Melvin.

How I overcame disability to become a NASA astronaut

An astronaut had to overcome hearing loss to get to fly to space.

Videos
  • Leland Melvin was told he'd never be an astronaut after he lost all his hearing.
  • He got a chance to fly to space and honor the legacy of his friends after the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster.
  • Leland worked on building the space station in an "amazing transformation" from the lowest point in his life.
Keep reading Show less

What humanity will gain by going to Mars

The greatest space program spinoff? Human collaboration.

Technology & Innovation
  • It might take going to another planet for different nations to finally, once and for all, learn how to get along with each other.
  • What will we eat on Mars? We can't live off of a diet of potatoes alone. There are huge problems to solve, but recent technologies like 3D printing might help things move a lot faster, and be a lot less dangerous.
  • Leland is a featured big thinker on season 2 of Mars on the National Geographic Channel. You can find out more information about the show here.
Keep reading Show less