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Shoot for the moon: Belmont junior receives NASA certification

KC Katalbas — a 20-year-old audio and video production major at Belmont — took her passion for science to the next level by becoming NASA certified.

Katlabas is an avid science lover and employee of the Sudekum Planetarium at the Adventure Science Center, so when she heard about an opportunity to attend a NASA certification workshop, she couldn’t pass it up.

NASA offers a one-day workshop where people can learn how to properly handle and securely store moon rock and meteorite samples. Katalbas attended this workshop and received her certification, which allows her to teach the children she works with at the planetarium about these samples.

Katalbas’ experiences are far from typical for Belmont students, but she doesn’t get the opportunity to talk about them very often. Her unique experiences may have continued to go unnoticed by her classmates had it not been for an assignment in Dr. Sybril Brown’s Digital Citizenship class.

For this project, students needed to create a LinkedIn profile and present it to the class. Katalbas presented a wide variety of interests and activities, including her job educating children at the planetarium, her involvement in the Bernard Seyfert Astronomical Society and YouTube channel which has almost 2,500 subscribers.

However, Brown said the most impressive thing about Katalbas’ presentation was her NASA certification.

“Through the years, several student presentations have revealed remarkable success, yet realizing KC is certified by NASA was truly amazing,” said Brown. “To be so young, passionate and purposeful is what made the entire class take note. KC has positioned herself well to leverage her NASA certification. Earning this coveted platform will elevate her to the stars and beyond.”

Katalbas’ interests and expertise extend beyond science, and she wants to build a career by combining her love for science, education and audio and video production. She hopes to work for NASA someday and help to further space exploration in some way. Additionally, she would like to produce planetarium shows that get children excited about science.

“I really like the way video and audio can really engage people, and, working at the planetarium, I’ve seen how it engages young kids. Planetariums specifically have such a good foothold in doing that already; I would really like to be a part of producing planetarium shows,” said Katalbas. “I really kind of just want to work in planetariums forever.”

Katalbas knows her NASA certification is a novelty, but she thinks it’s important for people to recognize the significance of science in everyday life. She encourages everyone not to be intimidated by science, but to get involved and excited about it in ways as simple as examining the world and how it works — no NASA certification required.

“Science is for real people who just want to know how stuff work,” said Katalbas. “That desire is in every single person. Science doesn’t belong to any one person — it belongs to everybody. It really brings people together. A huge part of the human spirit is discovering new things, and having community around that is really special.”

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This article written by Nicole Brown. Photo courtesy of KC Katalbas.

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