Woodstock Public Library Youth Services Librarian Mary Ryan recently received an invitation to participate in a NASA program that allows educators to join training for the Mars Atmospheric and Volatile Evolution program – otherwise known as MAVEN. 

“I was shocked I was picked,” Ryan said. “I thought they were never going to pick me, but I’m really excited. Space is one of the few areas of science that really appeals to everyone.”

The basis of NASA’s mission is to launch a Mars-bound spacecraft that will help determine certain facts about the red planet – such as how atmospheric gas has changed the Martian climate and how and why water on Mars vanished. Ryan and the other educators will partake in the mission’s training course.

While attending an American Library Association conference over the summer related to  science, technology, engineering and mathematics education, Ryan heard a group of NASA representatives discuss the MAVEN program and how educators could apply to be participants in its training course.

Ryan applied for the program Oct. 4 and received a letter of acceptance Oct.7.  She is one of 40 educators across the nation chosen to participate in the training. 

Training in the MAVEN program will take place in Cocoa Beach, Fla., in November. Participants also will have the opportunity to visit the Kennedy Space Center and attend the MAVEN launch. 

Ryan said she is excited about the trip and the training she will receive.

“During the course, librarians are also going to be trained on how to do space-based programs,” Ryans said. 

When she returns, Ryan said she hopes to work with the staff at Woodstock’s Challenger Learning Center for Science & Technology to implement cross-cooperative programming for young people in the community.

“Next summer’s reading theme [at the library] will be science-based,” Ryan said. “I hope to work with local schools and attract student interest. Space exploration is exciting …. People forget all the practical things that have come about through NASA and space study.”

Ryan said she has already spoken to other librarians in McHenry County and would like to bring higher quality science technology into the community, while also getting groups such as 4-H more involved.

“I’m hoping to show patrons the wonders [of science] as well as the nuts and bolts of why it matters,” she said.

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