Pioneer alumnus Martin Kelsey (MET 04’) worked as a Kansas City Royals cameraman for nearly eight years, filming many of the team’s biggest games between 2006 and 2014. However, despite his enthusiasm for capturing exciting footage, and working with Kansas City’s beloved Royals, Kelsey says his first passion has always been education, which is why he chose to step out from behind the camera to host a new educational web series for the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum.
“I taught elementary science and middle-school broadcast journalism for 16 years,” Kelsey says, “and education is something I’m very passionate about. That career, along with my master’s degree from MNU, and some work filming classroom material for the National Geographic, all combined to help land me the position. It’s a deeply satisfying opportunity.”
Currently, the aptly named Stem In 30 is broadcast on NASA TV, as well as the Smithsonian’s official webpage, and PBS Learning Media on the web. According to Kelsey, the series covers a variety of topics selected to enhance student interest in science, science, engineering, technology and math—STEM. The acronym was conceived by the U.S. Department of Education to headline its latest grant-based initiative, which is designed to encourage both high school and middle school students to choose a career in one of the four STEM fields. In practice, grants awarded to schools under the STEM program provide science teachers with supplementary funds to purchase additional classroom materials, obtain new science equipment, and to pay substitutes while the primary teachers attend STEM-based conferences and seminars. During Stem in 30, viewers can expect to learn about a variety of topics, ranging from how NASA uses space equipment to redirect an asteroid to the historic flight of the Wright Brothers.
“Every show is very different,” Kelsey says. “We try to hit a lot of different topics that are useful for teachers in classrooms. The last show we did boasted viewers from as far away as Canada and California, and we’re starting to gain a pretty big following on the East Coast.”
The structure of each episode, according to Kelsey, strives to be flexible and time-sensitive in its approach in order to maximize effectiveness and manageability in the modern classroom.
“We tend to do the format of our show as a lot of short segments,” Kelsey said. “We’ll feature an expert, such as an astronaut, and interview them for no longer than five minutes, or we’ll have an animation about how to go out into your backyard and see the international space station pass over. Using this approach, if a teacher doesn’t have the time for a thirty minute show, they might be able to pull in a two-minute interview segment to use as a preliminary piece.”
According to the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, funding for the series is provided by a number of prominent agencies and corporations, such as NASA, Boeing, Titanium, Safran, and Alcoa. Because of their support, Kelsey says the Stem in 30 Production Team, along with both the show’s host, are able to travel and film on location in historic sites across the nation, as well as incorporate a live student audience and online participation. Those characteristics, Kelsey says, lend the series a much-needed sense of authenticity and interactivity.
While Stem in 30 does cover important topics in the fields of science, aviation and space flight, the show is not without a sense of humor. During April fool’s day in 2015, the Smithsonian’s National Space and Air Museum arranged to display a rather unique exhibit: Wonder Woman’s invisible jet.
“It started out that we were thinking of an April fool’s joke we were going to play on my boss, Mark Kornmann,” Kelsey says, “so we decided to tell him the Museum is going to hang Wonder Woman’s Invisible jet. And, the next thing we know, they’ve got a lift out on the floor, and they’re raising an invisible airplane as an exhibit.”
Kelsey, along with co-Host Beth Wilson, then posted a video on YouTube of the prank, in which they humorously discuss the zany technical features of the imaginary craft. The video has since achieved nearly 120,000 views.
The next episode of Stem in 30 is scheduled for December 17, and will cover the Wright Brother’s historic first flight that launched the modern aviation industry. Principal filming for the episode will take place on location at the Wright Brother’s relocated bicycle shop in Dearborn, Michigan, as well as in the lab of Thomas Edison, which is in the same village. Prior episodes of the series are archived at the official Stem in 30 webpage and are free to view at any time.
As for Kelsey’s success in now three unique and challenging careers, the teacher says his degree in educational technology from MNU has played an important role.
“There are still things that I learned in my classes that are useful today, and I am still teaching them to others” Kelsey says. “They taught me a lot about hitting deadlines and working hard, and it really opened my eyes about working with technology. It was definitely worthwhile and has been a valuable degree.”