U of M Bell Museum hosts NASA astronaut and Minnesota native Josh Cassada

In an effort to bring the universe closer to Minnesotans, the Bell Museum will host Dr. Josh Cassada, NASA Astronaut and Lt. Commander for the U.S. Navy, on January 14 to present “The Road from Minnesota to the Space Station and Beyond.” Cassada is a White Bear Lake native, and will be visiting White Bear Lake Area High School with the Bell Museum’s ExploraDome team to discuss his experience working for NASA, space and science.

The Bell Museum offers live and interactive planetarium programs to thousands of schoolchildren each year both through the museum’s ExploraDome Theater, and across the state in their traveling ExploraDome, an inflatable geo dome that offers immersive education experiences. The program, powered by University of Minnesota research and discovery, aligns with national and state science education standards, and is led by experienced museum educators and University students with a passion for teaching science. Since 2006, the traveling ExploraDome has reached over 162,000 Minnesotans, and can be found at major events like the Minnesota State Fair.

“Our goal for the ExploraDome is to give K-12 students across the state an opportunity to experience space and help spark an interest science, technology, engineering, art and math, and ultimately in higher education,” said Sally Brummel, planetarium program manager who leads the ExploraDome team. “Bringing Josh back to his hometown to discuss how growing up in White Bear Lake led him to NASA helps break down geographic barriers that students may perceive.”

“If we knew exactly what we were going to find or learn, it would be difficult to get excited to do the incredibly hard scientific work to get there. After a couple incredibly challenging, rewarding and diverse careers, I am one of the fortunate people who will ride on top of a rocket in order to live, work and explore in space -- and I have my former teachers, colleagues, friends and family to credit for this incredible opportunity.” said Cassada.

Cassada graduated from White Bear Lake Area High School in 1991. He attended Albion College in Michigan, where he earned an undergraduate degree in physics, and went on to receive his master's and doctorate degrees in high-energy physics from the Rochester Institute of Technology. In 2000 he joined the U.S. Navy and is a Lt. Commander and former test pilot. Cassada was selected as a NASA astronaut candidate in 2013, completed two years of training in July 2015, and is now a member of NASA's astronaut corps.

“I’m excited to get back to Twin Cities, and to visit my high school and the U – where I took some summer courses during college – to share the amazing things that we’ve accomplished so far and, more importantly, those seemingly impossible things that we can, and will, discover together,” said Cassada.

The Bell Museum will host a public presentation by Cassada on January 14 at the Bell Museum, 10 Church Street SE, Minneapolis. A reception will begin at 6:30 p.m. with a public presentation of “The Road from Minnesota to the Space Station and Beyond.” For more details, visit bellmuseum.umn.edu/nasa-cassada.

Media Note: Please contact Andria Waclawski (andria@umn.edu or 612-624-7389) to request an interview during either the day or evening events.

About the Bell Museum
The Bell Museum of Natural History is Minnesota’s official natural history museum, and has been inspiring those curious about life to be part of the story through hands-on experiences with University of Minnesota research and discovery in the arts, sciences and nature since 1872. The museum will be moving to a new location on the St. Paul campus of the University of Minnesota in 2018, including a new 120-seat digital planetarium. Learn more at bellmuseum.umn.edu.

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