Senator Barbara Ann Mikulski
Helping You to Be You Part 1: Supernova Senator (2021)

“Explain the mission. Where are we? How can I help you be you?”

First 10-15 min: Introductions. Names, where they are from, academic interests (rather than major), and perhaps a quirky detail you’re willing to share about yourself. Assure them that this is a true conversation: the word means “to keep company with.” It’s ok to make mistakes, ask questions, and change your mind.

Middle 30-40 min: Discussion. First, orient students to the discussion: (1) Make sure everyone knows where the Space Telescope Science Institute is on campus, and what happens in there! (2) This video is part of this year’s Common Question: What is Progress? In particular, we’ll talk about what we learn about progress from this video, and what questions about progress the Hubble’s story raises.

  • What did you know about the Hubble Telescope before this video? What surprised you?
  • Considering the story of the Hubble, from its beginnings in the ’80s to now, to what extent do you think “progress” is linear, and to what extent is it a different geometric shape altogether?
  • The Hubble story is one of empowering others to be at their best. Who were the critical players; how might you describe their roles?
  • How did Senator Mikulski build consensus around saving Hubble?
  • Hubble images are free and publicly accessible via the Barbara A. Mikulski Archive for Space Telescopes. How do you see the relationship between extremely specialized fields of science/engineering and public access to information? How might that change the mission of a scientific endeavor?
  • Senator Mikulski talks about being inspired by Marie Curie but finding herself “clumsy” at science. What inspires you to make the world a better place—whether or not it lines up with your particular talents? What paths can you imagine taking?
  • On December 18, 2021, the Space Telescope Science Institute will serve as mission control for NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope—an orbiting infrared observatory that will complement and extend the discoveries of the Hubble Space Telescope, and fundamentally change our understanding of the universe and our place in it. What can we learn from Hubble to help us advocate for the Webb Telescope and its possibilities?

Last 10 min: Wrap up.