STEM Tuesday– Astronauts and Space Travel — Writing Tips & Resources

Behind the Scenes

Astronauts are awesome, don’t get me wrong. They’re like the quarterback of aeronautics and space exploration. They’re the face of the mission just as the quarterback is the face of the football team. But I’m a lineman. Linemen do the work in the trenches that keeps the quarterback on track for success. Space travel requires an army of men and women working in the trenches in order to make a mission successful and bring their astronauts home safe and sound. 

Curiosity Science Laboratory Mission Operations Team

I was full of wonder as only a newly-minted five-year-old birthday boy can be when I saw the Eagle land on the moon in July of 1969. That sense of wonder never left me but years later I got to thinking deeper about this life-changing event. Sure we all watched Neil Armstrong take one small step but what about the thousands of people working behind the scenes to make it possible? From the spacesuit to the landing pads to the camera to the experiments to the engineers who made a flagpole that would stick in the lunar surface, those thousands of people made those short, historic minutes possible.

Curiosity EDL Team NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab

Your STEM Tuesday mission this month?

Drill down into a system. Study it. Look at the purpose, the plan, the participants, and the place. It can be a human-engineered system, like NASA’s Mars Curiosity Lander Mission, the International Space Station, a zoo, a factory, a sports team, a library, a school, or it can be a natural system like a pond, anthill, beehive, or wolf pack. Any system will do. 

Curiosity Women of Mars Scientists

As I was preparing this piece, we experienced a historical event with the COVID-19 coronavirus global pandemic designation by the World Health Organization. That, coupled with the infections ravaging Italy, kicked in a new, and hopefully short, shift in life for most of us. Social distancing, flattening the curve, epidemiology, supply chain economics, and shelter-in-place have all become new words in most of our vocabularies. 

The global systems in place to search for these emerging infectious diseases and react might be a good system to start. The World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and your state and local health departments are all good systems to study during the time of learning in place. It might also help kids, parents, teachers, and their families better understand the health systems in place and how these systems work for our safety.

STEM Tuesday enthusiasts, jump in on a system that fills you with wonder and then look behind the scenes. Drill down, dig deep, observe the inner workings with a fine-toothed comb. Keep a notebook or journal to document your journey. Use text, pictures, drawings, or whatever it takes to figure out what’s happening under the hood of your system. Feel free to share your discoveries in the comments below or by adding a link there.

Stay SAFE!

Stay informed!

Stay engaged with the life around you.

Stay STEM!

Mike Hays has worked hard from a young age to be a well-rounded individual. A well-rounded, equal opportunity sports enthusiasts, that is. If they keep a score, he’ll either watch it, play it, or coach it. A molecular microbiologist by day, middle-grade author, sports coach, and general good citizen by night, he blogs about sports/training related topics at and writer stuff at www.mikehaysbooks.comTwo of his science essays, The Science of Jurassic Park and Zombie Microbiology 101,  are included in the Putting the Science in Fiction collection from Writer’s Digest Books. He can be found roaming around the Twitter-sphere under the guise of @coachhays64.


The O.O.L.F Files

This month’s Out Of Left Field (O.O.L.F.) takes a look at systems. Everything from NASA to pandemics to insect colony organization. Click a link or two or three, or heck, click them all! Enjoy!

Go by Public Broadcasting System 

This is one of my favorite music videos and a top 50 Mike Hays song. It does a nice job of showing the behind the scenes of Apollo 11 moon landing riding along with a really awesome tune.


Novel Coronavirus 2019: Scientist Roundtable at the Science in SF blog 

I had the privilege of being part of a blog roundtable recently with some really sharp people to discuss the COVID-19 pandemic. If you are looking for some answers to your questions or just want to know more, check it out. 

More COVID-19 Questions? Here’s a great list of resources with information you can trust.


Inside the Ant Colony, a TEDed lesson


How Do Honeybees Get Their Jobs? | National Geographic


This is still one of my favorite Food Network shows. It made the foodie and the scientist sides of me very happy.

And finally, since we are talking about food…

Top 10 Most Amazing Automatic Food Processing Machines

Bon appetit! 



STEM Tuesday
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