HARTSDALE, N.Y. — NASA Astrophysics Director Paul Hertz will speak at Solomon Schechter of Westchester in Hartsdale on Wednesday, in hopes he'll inspire students to discover the secrets of the universe.
The event is the second part of Schechter's new Distinguished Lecture Series, which encourages the community to get involved in science, technology, engineering and math. As the director of NASA's astrophysics division, Hertz will talk about his success in the agency's research programs and missions, where he has overseen $3 billion worth of space flight missions.
Hertz said he jumped at the opportunity to inspire young students to get involved in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) so they can continue his work on discovering how the universe works and NASA's search for Earth-like planets.
"We want some of these students to come up and help us land on Mars, to put up bigger space telescopes," Hertz said. "I think everyone should be able to be a part of what makes the world so special."
The lecture follows the first STEM event put together in November, when Schechter hosted IBM physicist James Wynne, the co-creator of laser eye surgery. The Schechter faculty hopes the effort will broaden the scope of local schools' interest in STEM education, said Danny Aviv, Schechter curricular developer and science technology teacher.
"It's one thing to teach it, but if they can hear from a person who has gone through it and can tell success stories, that's real inspiration," Aviv said.
Students' interest in NASA has always been high, Hertz said, and NASA is taking a great interest in STEM programs — especially since technology jobs have high pay and low unemployment. His message to students Wednesday will show them how hard work pays off, he added.
"If you do the work and get the skills, the jobs are there," Hertz said. "We need that next generation of capable science engineers to take us further into space than we've ever been before."
The lecture series is open to the public and starts at 7:30 p.m. in the media center of the Solomon Schechter Upper School, 555 W. Hartsdale Ave.