Reaching for the stars: Dr. Mike Zolensky and Dr. Dean Muirhead

SAN BENITO — Don‘t be afraid of failure.

That’s one piece of advice two NASA scientists left behind in their visit to San Benito High School this past week.

Dr. Mike Zolensky and Dr. Dean Muirhead from the Johnson Space Center in Houston stopped by to talk to junior and senior students about their careers and scientific research.

“In designing your lives you have to go out and experiment and go out and make mistakes and try things,” Muirhead said.

“If you only do things you know how to do, you’re not going to grow as a person.”

Zolensky and Muirhead gave presentations on what they were currently working on and their findings of the past.

“The biggest misconception people have about NASA is that we know exactly what we’re doing and that everyone that works at NASA is just really smart and are just doing amazing stuff that we know how to do, and that’s not true at all,” Muirhead said.

It is the third year in a row NASA scientists have stopped by to visit with the Greyhounds on the way to judging the Regional Science Engineering Fair in Brownsville.

Science teacher Mary Maney said the presence of the scientists helps to spark passion in her students and teach them about future possibilities.

“It is an opportunity students don’t normally have and as long as they are willing to talk to us we’re going to keep going for it,” Maney said.

Maney said presentations will spark interests in students who are normally not interested in these subjects.

“I want these kids to start wondering,” Maney said.

The conversations sparked interest for possible STEM careers, but other students were interested in other aspects of the presentation.

Student and president of the STEM club, Tanzia Marrouquin said she thought the positivity and openness of the scientists really helped her ponder the future.

“I thought it was really interesting,” Marrouquin said.

Maney said she hopes events like these help students find their passions and teach them about what they could be.

“I’ve got good kids here but I’ve got good kids here that don’t know about their possibilities,” Maney said.

Meet the Scientists

Dr. Mike Zolensky –

A stardust, cosmic dust, and microparticle impact curator. He has led and participated in successful meteorite recovery expeditions on four continents and developed techniques for characterization of meteoroid and space debris impact features on spacecraft.

Dr. Dean Muirhead –

An engineer with Barrios Technology working in the Life Support Systems Branch at NASA. Currently he is optimizing the air revitalization and water recovery system technologies on the International Space Station.