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Woodstock librarian will attend NASA launch

Published: Sunday, Oct. 27, 2013 12:14 a.m. CST • Updated: Sunday, Oct. 27, 2013 12:16 a.m. CST

WOODSTOCK – A local librarian will travel to Florida to watch a Mars orbiter blast off, then use what she learned to help local space programs do the same.

Mary Ryan, youth services librarian at the Woodstock Public Library, was one of 40 individuals chosen to receive training the week of Nov. 15.

The program will help Ryan and others learn techniques to better implement programs that teach children science and space exploration.

“It’s really exciting because the best thing about space is it’s something that even the layperson can get excited about,” Ryan said. “Without a thorough background, you can still be filled with wonder.”

The program is centered on the scheduled Nov. 18 NASA launch from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station of the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution, or MAVEN.

MAVEN is a space probe that will orbit and study Mars, aiming to determine the role played by a loss of atmospheric gas in changing the climate of Mars over time.

In the days before the launch, Ryan and others will learn about the mission and how to incorporate space into local programs. The group also will get a tour of Kennedy Space Center.

It will give Ryan a chance to learn a new area.

“It’s one of the reasons I applied. I think science is interesting, but I don’t have a scientific background,” she said. “I wanted to know what to do and what would work.”

When she returns, Ryan will put that knowledge to use.

As a requirement, she said, she will plan at least three space-related programs in the first year after the program. She also wants to plan joint programs with the Challenger Learning Center for Science and Technology in Woodstock, she added.

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