A little boy had a book read to him by an astronaut in space, and so can you.

8-year-old Roraigh has always loved space and reading, which is why he entered a contest to have an astronaut read him a bedtime story from space.

Like most good stories, Roraigh's starts with an ordinary kid who was suddenly whisked away on a fantastic adventure.

Photo by Lost My Name, used with permission.


Roraigh's dream is to visit Pluto because it hasn't been explored yet, and he's currently in the middle of reading the Harry Potter series (so don't spoil it for him).

So it only made sense for him to apply to the contest held by U.K. book publisher Lost My Name — a contest that promised an experience he'd never forget.

To his disbelief, Roraigh won the contest! He suddenly found himself at the Kennedy Space Center in Titusville, Florida, watching an International Space Station rocket launch.

Also on that rocket? A kid's picture book ... about Roraigh.

Lost My Name specializes in personalized children's books. Not only are they super cool, but the publishers say they're proven to help kids better engage with reading.

When Roraigh's book finally arrived aboard the ISS, British astronaut Tim Peake recorded a video of himself reading the book to Roraigh. Then he beamed it back down to Earth, where Roraigh has watched it again and again and again.


Photo by Lost My Name, used with permission.

"It was really cool, a real-life astronaut reading a book to you, from space!" Roraigh told Upworthy.

Sounds like every kid's dream.

OK, so not every kid gets to watch as a book about him is launched into space.

But now every kid can listen to an astronaut read them one of their own favorite stories, just like Roraigh.

It's all part of a nonprofit program called Story Time From Space.


Photo by NASA via Getty Images.

Founded by Patricia Tribe, a former education director at Space Center Houston, Story Time From Space launches space-related books like "Mousetronaut Goes to Mars" or "The Wizard Who Saved the World" into orbit, where they're read aloud by real-life astronauts, recorded, and sent back to Earth. The astronauts also conduct fun science experiments relevant to the reading.

The videos are posted online for all to see so kids can follow along with a story before bed or in the classroom, all in the name of getting more children excited about STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math).


Photo by Story Time From Space/YouTube.

And if you don't believe that's an important goal, maybe this'll convince you: Story Time From Space has its own official mission page on NASA's website!

Studies show U.S. students have been hovering around the middle of the world's pack in math and science aptitude for years.

That's a bit of a bummer for the future of awesome things like space exploration, engineering, and medicine.

But the power of a good story? That won't be going away anytime soon.

The people behind Story Time From Space realized early on that watching an astronaut reading a real, hard-copy book while floating around the ISS, with the Earth glowing hundreds of miles away in the background, would be a powerful experience for many kids.

"I decided that it would be a good idea to have astronauts reading from space combining literature and science, because one should complement the other," Tribe told The Toronto Star.

After all, it's like the nonprofit's slogan says: "What you cannot imagine, you cannot do."

Right now, Roraigh's book is still rocketing through space at over 17,000 mph.

One day, it'll return home along with several other books like it that have been read to the children of Earth.

Since his experience with Story Time From Space, Roraigh said he's been given "loads of space books" from friends and relatives, and that he's excited to keep learning about the planets and how they formed.

Sounds like the program just might be working.

You can watch astronaut Tim Peake read Roraigh's book in the video below, or check out the full Story Time From Space video library.

Heroes

As a child, Dr. Sangeeta Bhatia's parents didn't ask her what she wanted to be when she grew up. Instead, her father would ask, "Are you going to be a doctor? Are you going to be an engineer? Or are you going to be an entrepreneur?"

Little did he know that she would successfully become all three: an award-winning biomedical and mechanical engineer who performs cutting-edge medical research and has started multiple companies.

Bhatia holds an M.D. from Harvard University, an M.S. in mechanical engineering from MIT, and a PhD in biomedical engineering from MIT. Bhatia, a Wilson professor of engineering at MIT, is currently serving as director of the Marble Center for Cancer Nanomedicine, where she's working on nanotechnology targeting enzymes in cancer cells. This would allow cancer screenings to be done with a simple urine test.

Bhatia owes much of her impressive career to her family. Her parents were refugees who met in graduate school in India; in fact, she says her mom was the first woman to earn an MBA in the country. The couple immigrated to the U.S. in the 1960s, started a family, and worked hard to give their two daughters the best opportunities.

"They made enormous sacrifices to pick a town with great public schools and really push us to excel the whole way," Bhatia says. "They really believed in us, but they expected excellence. The story I like to tell about my dad is like, if you brought home a 96 on a math test, the response would be, 'What'd you get wrong?'"

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Don't test on animals. That's something we can all agree on, right? No one likes to think of defenseless cats, dogs, hamsters, and birds being exposed to a bunch of things that could make them sick (and the animals aren't happy about it, either). It's no wonder so many people and organizations have fought to stop it. But did you ever think that maybe brands are testing products on us too, they're just not telling us they're doing it?

I know, I know, it sounds like a conspiracy theory, but that's exactly what e-cigarette brands like JUUL (which corners the e-cigarette market) are doing in this country right now, and young people are on the frontlines of the fallout. Most people assume that the government would have looked at devices that allow people to inhale unknown chemicals into their lungs BEFORE they hit the market. You would think that someone in the government would have determined that they are safe. But nope, that hasn't happened. And vape companies are fighting to delay the government's ability to evaluate these products.

So no one really knows the long-term health effects of e-cigarette use, not even JUUL's CEO, nor are they informing the public about the potential risks. On top of that, according to the FDA, there's been a 78% increase in e-cigarette usage among high school and middle school-aged children in just the last two years, prompting the U.S. Surgeon General to officially recognize the trend as an epidemic and urge action against it.

These facts have elicited others to take action, as well.

Truth Initiative, the nonprofit best known for dropping the real facts about smoking and vaping since 2000 through its truth campaign, is now on a mission to confront e-cigarette brands like JUUL about the lack of care they've taken to inform consumers of the potential adverse side effects of their products. And they're doing it with the help of animal protesters who are tired of seeing humans treated like test subjects.

The March Against JUUL | Tested On Humans | truth www.youtube.com

"No one knows the long-term effects of JUULing so any human who uses one is being used as a lab rat," says, appropriately, Mario the Sewer Rat.

"I will never stop fighting JUUL. Or the mailman," notes Doug the Pug, the Instagram-famous dog star.

Truth, the national counter-marketing campaign for youth smoking prevention, hopes this fuzzy, squeaky, snorty animal movement arms humans with the facts about vaping and inspires them to demand transparency from JUUL and other e-cigarette companies. You can get your own fur babies involved too by sharing photos of them wearing protest gear with the hashtag #DontTestOnHumans. Here's some adorable inspo for you:

The dangerous stuff is already out there, but with knowledge on their side, young people will hopefully make the right choices and fight companies making the wrong ones. If you need more convincing, here are the serious facts.

Over the last decade, 127 e-cigarette-related seizures were reported, which prompted the FDA to launch an official investigation in April 2019. Since then, over 215 cases of a new, severe lung illness have sprung up all over the country, with six deaths to date. While scientists aren't yet sure of the root cause, the majority of victims were young adults who regularly vaped and used e-cigarettes. As such, the CDC has launched an official investigation into the potential link.

Sixteen-year-old Luka Kinard, a former frequent e-cigarette-user, is one of the many teens who experienced severe side effects. "Vaping was my biggest addiction," he told NowThis. "It lasted for about 15 months of my high school career." In 2018, Kinard was hospitalized after having a seizure. He also had severe nausea, chest pains, and difficulty breathing.

After the harrowing experience, he quit vaping, and began speaking out about his experience to help inform others and hopefully inspire them to quit and/or take action. "It shouldn't take having a seizure as a result of nicotine addiction like I had for teens to realize that these companies are taking advantage of what we don't know," Kinard said.

Teens are 16 times more likely to use e-cigarettes than adults, and four times more likely to take up traditional smoking as a result, according to truth, and yet the e-cigarette market remains virtually unregulated and untested. In fact, companies like JUUL continue to block and prevent FDA regulations, investing more than $1 million in lawyers and lobbying efforts in the last quarter alone.

Photo by Lindsay Fox/Pixabay

Consumers have a right to know what they're putting in their bodies. If everyone (and their pets) speaks up, the e-cigarette industry will have to make a change. Young people are already taking action across the country. They're hosting rallies nationwide and on October 9 as part of a National Day of Action, young people are urging their friends and classmates to "Ditch JUUL." Will you join them?

For help with quitting e-cigarettes, visit thetruth.com/quit or text DITCHJUUL to 88709 for free, anonymous resources.

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