3 questions to ask yourself before answering NASA's job announcement for new astronauts.

Odds are, at some point in your life, you probably considered a career as an astronaut.

Between the kick-ass suits, exploring the unknown, and that whole zero gravity thing, it looks like a pretty great gig.

Also Space Camp seems like buckets of fun.


"Orange you glad to be an astronaut?" Photo by NASA on The Commons/Flickr.

Sadly, many of us traded in this dream for something a little more realistic.

For those of you who never gave up hope, however, I have some great news:

For the first time in decades, NASA is hiring new astronauts for future deep space missions.

It's the first time humans will venture past "low-Earth orbit" (anything higher than about 100 miles above Earth) since 1972, so they're looking for a few new recruits with diverse professional backgrounds and areas of expertise.

Astronaut Mae Jemison serving up STEM professional realness. Photo by NASA on The Commons/Flickr.

“This next group of American space explorers will inspire the Mars generation to reach for new heights, and help us realize the goal of putting boot prints on the Red Planet,” NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said.

Intergalactic pioneers and an annual salary of $66,026 to $144,566 per year?

SIGN. ME. UP.

So, do you have the right stuff to be an astronaut?

Flight Engineer Tim Kopra of NASA, right, is seen with fellow crewmates, talking with friends and family before launch aboard the Soyuz spacecraft n Baikonur, Kazakhstan. Photo by NASA HQ Photo/Flickr.

According to the application, available now on USAJobs, the federal employment website, here's what NASA is looking for for their next class of space professionals:

1. Do you have book smarts?

Applicants need a bachelor's degree from an accredited university in engineering, biological science, physical science, computer science, or mathematics. This, however, does not include degrees in nursing, psych, technology, or even aviation technology.

Your theater tech degree is awesome, but it probably won't give you the know-how you need to be an astronaut. I know. It stinks. Photo by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/Flickr.

2. Do you have skillz? (Or In lieu of skillz-with-a-z, an advanced degree?)

You'll also have to have at least three years of professional experience under your belt in your degree field or an advanced degree.

Don't have those because you were busy being a pilot? 1,000 hours of pilot-in-command time works too.


Photo by NASA on The Commons/Flickr.

3. Do you have a body that just won't quit (on you in space)?

Last step: You'll also need to pass a physical and have 20/20 vision, though you're allowed to wear glasses.

Applicants will also be expected to pass a drug test and a swim test, but probably not at the same time, despite a golden opportunity for comedy.

Carolyn Griner, Ann Whitaker, and Dr. Mary Johnston, simulating weightlessness while undergoing training in the Neutral Buoyancy Simulator at the Marshall Space Flight Center in 1975. Photo by NASA on The Commons/Flickr.

Getting selected for the program is difficult, but it's nothing compared to astronaut training and the job itself.

Training for the three to six month missions aboard the international space station requires two to three years of training, often overseas with NASA's global partners.

Fair warning, some surprising things happen to the human body in space due to the lack of gravity. Your spine may elongate, your bones lose calcium and become brittle, your heart gets smaller, and even your eyesight can change. They don't mention that stuff on the application.

But they also don't mention that your new view could very well be this:



So if you're ready to chase adventure and eat your weight in dehydrated ice cream, get your application in before the Feb. 18 deadline.

But word to the wise: frequent travel may be required.

Space Shuttle Atlantis takes flight in 1988. Photo by NASA on The Commons/Flickr.

Heroes

On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

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Cadbury has removed the words from its Dairy Milk chocolate bars in the U.K. to draw attention to a serious issue, senior loneliness.

On September 4, Cadbury released the limited-edition candy bars in supermarkets and for every one sold, the candy giant will donate 30p (37 cents) to Age UK, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the elderly.

Cadbury was prompted to help the organization after it was revealed that 225,000 elderly people in the UK often go an entire week without speaking to another person.

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Well Being

Young people today are facing what seems to be greater exposure to complex issues like mental health, bullying, and youth violence. As a result, teachers are required to be well-versed in far more than school curriculum to ensure students are prepared to face the world inside and outside of the classroom. Acting as more than teachers, but also mentors, counselors, and cheerleaders, they must be equipped with practical and relevant resources to help their students navigate some of the more complicated social issues – though access to such tools isn't always guaranteed.

Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

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One of the major differences between women and men is that women are often judged based on their looks rather than their character or abilities.

"Men as well as women tend to establish the worth of individual women primarily by the way their body looks, research shows. We do not do this when we evaluate men," Naomi Ellemers Ph.D. wrote in Psychology Today.

Dr. Ellers believes that this tendency to judge a woman solely on her looks causes them to be seen as an object rather than a person.

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Culture