Why “Orbital Elements”?

So I’m a huge space dork.  My undergrad is in Aerospace Engineering, my masters are in Space Studies and Astronautical Engineering.  I love space-related pretty much anything.  I guess you could say space is my hobby and my academic pursuit, and maybe someday I’ll get around to getting to use those degrees in my actual job.  Since my work currently has nothing to do with space, although at least I’m doing engineering work.

Orbital Elements describe an orbit.  In a way, they’re sort of like GPS coordinates, but for a satellite’s path around the Earth.   Instead of latitude, longitude, and altitude, though, you need six elements to describe where and how something is orbiting around the central body.  The orbital elements tell you exactly where the orbit is – how far out, how big, how tilted and which way tilted it’s tilted, where it crosses the equator, how round or oval, etc.  For more details, the Wikipedia entry on Orbital Elements is pretty good, and here are some nice pictures from NASA:

orbital_elements (1)

As to why I picked this for the blog title, well… first, I’ll admit it just sounded kinda cool to me.  Because as I said above, I’m a space dork.  But I also liked the idea of naming it for something that acts essentially as a locator or map.  I’m hoping, through this blog, to share some fun things about giving kids and parents a roadmap to STEM jobs and education.  A little bit will be about building interest and curiosity, some about general geek parenting, some just about navigating the world.  A lot will probably be things I’ve learned the hard way, since that seems to be the only way stuff usually manages to get inside my skull.

I am pretty passionate about the need for more scientists, engineers, mathematicians, programmers, technology gurus, geeks, nerds, and generally-well-rounded-and-educated people in this world.  I am especially passionate about making sure everyone – every gender and every race – gets a solid educational footing and an equal chance to succeed in those fields if they choose to.

So I’m hoping to get the word out here that STEM stuff is fun, and STEM fields can be great careers for anyone who wants to participate and contribute.  I aim to provide some good resources to get kids interested.  I’d like to find and write about some ‘Orbital Elements’ that, instead of describing an orbit, describe ways of getting kids into the fields where they can shape, design, engineer, and build the future.

Oh, and I’d really like to break down some barriers and smash some stereotypes so that women and minorities being terribly underrepresented in these fields might be a thing of the past by the time I retire.



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4 responses to “Why “Orbital Elements”?

  1. Jung, Dean

    I really like this.
    Why can’t I select “like”? Never finishes loading.


  2. I love the whole idea behind this! I’ve been trying to branch out and try new things with teaching science to my kids and it’s been a lot of fun watching them open up to how amazing our world is! 😀


    • Thanks! I pick up a lot of really neat ideas from other parents and educators at cons and STEM outreach events, so I’m looking forward to being able to share them here and have folks add even more ideas to the lists.


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