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Beginning August 13, Commander John Herrington, the first Native American astronaut, will embark on a 4,000-mile bicycle ride from Cape Flattery on Washington's Olympic Peninsula to Cape Canaveral in Florida. The purpose of this the cross-country trek, dubbed Rocketrek, is to promote and encourage student participation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The route is expected to take three months and will cross the states of Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. Stops are planned in each state where Commander Herrington will discuss his journey to the space program, the wonders of flying in space and the need for students to realize their potential that lies within.

"The generation that grew up in the age of the Apollo program and the journey to the moon was motivated by the excitement of space and the possibilities that it brought to the nation," says Herrington. "Those kinds of possibilities to explore the unknown and make new discoveries still exist, but we must motivate students to learn and have a way to connect what they learn to what they do on a daily basis."

Here on this Web site, kids will get a hands-on opportunity to do just that by following Herrington's journey and participating in his progress. Students can log into daily uplinks of Herrington's Global Positional System (GPS) positions, photos and a journal that will share his experiences and present real-world problems students can help solve using basic STEM skills along with problem solving and critical thinking.


As a Mission Specialist on the Shuttle Endeavor, John Herrington became the first Native American to fly in space in 2002. He logged 330 hours in space, including nearly 20 hours in space walks supporting the construction of the International Space Station. Herrington is a native of Wetumka, Oklahoma and a member of the Chickasaw Nation.

Once a college drop-out, Commander Herrington firmly believes his success and accomplishments are due to the encouragement and involvement of individuals he met during his formative college years. In leaving the astronaut corps, Herrington hopes he can help make a difference and impact on children by sharing his experiences � encouraging them to pursue their dreams, seek out exciting opportunities, and challenge who they are and what they are capable of accomplishing.

"I was once an unmotivated student, looking for something that sparked my fire," says Herrington. "I found it as a rock-climber on a survey crew, learning the application of mathematics from the side of a cliff. That experience inspired me to return to school and ultimately led to my career as an astronaut."

"Sometimes it takes someone outside of our normal circle of friends and family to shine a light in our direction and help us along," explains Herrington. "As I set out on this bike ride and try to make the learning practical and fun, I hope to also show students that it takes commitment and effort, both mental and physical, to accomplish your goals."


Students will exercise skills in problem solving and critical thinking through information posted by Herrington on the website. Topics that may be discussed include:

  • Caloric intake and heart rate in relation to overall health
  • Hydration, dehydration, hypothermia
  • Weather, wind velocity, ground and air speed, relative motion
  • Bike composition and weight/ comparison to space shuttle/station
  • Bike maintenance and repair
  • Getting power to electronics (i.e. batteries, solar)
  • Global Positioning System (GPS)
  • Digital camera technology
  • Velocity and torque
  • Mass and weight
  • Friction and measurements
  • Basic math
  • Addition and subtraction
  • Geometry, trigonometry and physics


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