Goddard Space Flight Center
June 1, 2020 – August 7, 2020
Goals of your project/s:
This summer, my internship asked me to expand NASA’s scientific storytelling portfolio. My primary goal was to communicate NASA’s scientific missions and experiences to the general public. One part of this was taking scientific jargon and translating it into understandable and approachable terminology for NASA’s audiences. Another part of this goal was bridging the gap between NASA-funded scientists and NASA readers who are interested in these scientists. I was tasked with writing stories to be published through NASA’s Earth Expeditions Blog (blogs.nasa.gov/earthexpeditions) and NASA’s feature webpage (nasa.gov).
Describe what you did during the internship:I was assigned to the Earth Science News Team in the Office of Communications, where I collaborated with other communicators and scientists. I wrote three stories for NASA Earth Expeditions Blog and three stories for NASA’s main webpage, nasa.gov. For these stories, I interviewed over a dozen scientists, NASA interns, and NASA employees via video or audio call. I compiled background information and visual imagery to support my stories. I had daily meetings with other communicators in the Office of Communications to build a network of writers, videographers, photographers, producers, animators, and editors. During the first half of my internship, I also worked with NASA Goddard’s Digital Team to produce content for Goddard’s Twitter and Facebook pages.
Did you achieve your goals? What were the results and conclusions?
I achieved my goal to enhance NASA’s storytelling portfolio and connect NASA projects and scientists to their audiences. I was able to publish six stories over ten weeks and post social media content to complement other NASA stories. Three of my stories were published on NASA Earth Expeditions Blog. “Lasers and Bubbles: Solving the Arctic’s Methane Puzzle” discusses ABoVE’s studies of thawing permafrost under Alaskan lakes and how this contributes to global climate change. This story was nominated as one of NASA’s “Best of Earth 2020” Earth Science communications products, presented during NASA’s Earth Theme Retreat. I also wrote about Operation IceBridge Alaska and their glacier surveys in my story “Operation IceBridge: Glaciers Aren’t Forever.” My final story for NASA Earth Expeditions, called “An Active Arctic: Where Sea Ice Meets the Midnight Sun,” explores MOSAiC’s international mission, where they intentionally stuck an icebreaker ship in ice for a year-long study of the Arctic. I also was tasked with three feature stories for nasa.gov. The first discusses terrain-relative navigation, an optical navigation technology that is being used to navigate the asteroid Bennu in the OSIRIS-REx project and could be used for lunar navigation and landing through the Artemis program (“Automated Technology Allows Unparalleled Space Exploration From Asteroids to Moon and Beyond”). I also wrote a story about a landslide threat in the Barry Arm Fjord of Alaska that could result in a tsunami that would devastate surrounding communities and tourist destinations (“Retreating Glacier Presents Landslide Threat, Tsunami Risk in Alaskan Fjord”). My final feature story highlighted NASA’s summer interns and their experience participating in NASA Goddard’s first fully-virtual internship (Goddard’s 1st Virtual Interns Reflect on Their Summer 2020 Experience”).
Describe positive lessons learned from this experience:
This internship showed me how important it is to take initiative and handle responsibilities outside of my comfort zone. As a communicator, I have to be prepared to juggle multiple stories, interviews, and dozens of emails all at the same time. I also have to be willing and ready to pitch my own stories, collaborate with other communicators, and adjust my work to target audiences. Sending follow-up emails and reaching out to NASA communications leadership can be the difference between getting a story and not getting a story. I’ve learned that being a knowledgeable communicator is key to being a confident communicator. This means spending the time to fully research a story’s background, uncover all perspectives involved, and conducting in-depth interviews with sources. Then, combining all these aspects and writing a concise yet descriptive story. Confidence in oneself as a writer really just means being positive that a story is the most detailed, interesting, and relevant that it can be.
Describe negative lessons learned from this experience:
The purpose behind an internship is to help you grow in your skills and advance as a professional. It is also to reveal to you what you like, what you don’t like, and where you can improve. Working with NASA this summer has shown me how much room I have to grow, and how much more I can learn in order to perfect my craft and reach my full potential. I know I am not the best I can be. I have been shown what skills I am lacking, but I have also been presented with an opportunity to better these skills in an environment that fosters creativity, innovation, and community.