For Student Reporters, an Out of This World Interview With a NASA Engineer

BY Thaisi Da Silva  August 17, 2012 at 10:27 AM EDT

High school student Destinee Davis interviews NASA engineer Maggie Sholtz via Skype.

Earlier this week, 16-year-old Destinee Davis received her first reporter’s notebook and lesson on the art of interviewing.

The high school sophomore, along with seven of her classmates from E.L. Haynes High School in Washington, D.C., put these newly acquired skills to the test during an online video interview with Maggie Scholtz, a NASA engineer who works on the Mars rover Curiosity.

To prepare for the interview, students of Kate Kairies’ 10th grade journalism class researched Scholtz, her work with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Curiosity’s mission.

Their homework assignment? To come up with a list of interesting and well-researched questions for the afternoon Q&A session: What is it like to be an engineer? What was going through your mind during the “Seven Minutes of Terror”? Will they bring Curiosity back?

Here is an excerpt from the interview, where one of our students asks about the existence of other life forms in space:

 

According to Kairies and her students, the interview mission was a big success.

Their questions led them to learn interesting personal facts about Scholtz, includuing how she comes from a family of engineers and is a self-pronounced sci-fi movie geek. The students also learned the importance of reporting and the responsibilities that accompany it.

“I felt like I was important and like I was a real reporter,” said Destinee.

Watch the interview in its entirety:

Watch additional reports from the PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs:

The students of E.L. Haynes High School will be producing more stories on science and the high school dropout crisis, as part of the PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs.