Twenty-first century technology has given students new ways to connect–with each other, their teachers, and with experts from around the world. But with Mars? Not quite… However, Megan Ewing’s Astronomy students came close on school Day 61, when they experienced a Google Hangout with Andy Weir. Weir is author of The Martian, the New York Times best-selling science-fiction novel, slated to be released as a major motion picture in November 2015.
Ewing, Astronomy teacher at Hamilton Southeastern High School, originally connected with Weir through Facebook. Says Megan, “I was just playing around one night on the Internet and found his web page. I followed him on Facebook from there and took a chance by messaging him. He replied within five minutes asking me to email him the details; he was immediately on board for the Google Hangout from there.”
The multi-class Skype was held in one of the HSE High School’s small auditoriums. Weir shared his background with the students, including how his career has evolved from computer programming to full-time writing. Weir began with a blog. One thing led to another and, several years later, The Martian was born.
Weir also took questions form the students. To the question, “What advice to do have for aspiring authors?” he responded, “It sounds simple, but just write. Don’t give away the ending or share your work. Most writers want to have an audience or someone to share their work with. If you hold off on sharing, this will act as motivation to finish your work.” Students also wanted to know who inspired the book’s main character, Mark Watney. To this, Weir replied, “Mark is very similar to me. A nerd, sarcastic and a smart-alec. I guess he has all of my good qualities and none of my bad qualities.”
Mrs. Ewing hopes that her students will have found some inspiration from this experience. “If space, or even science, are not their “things”, perhaps contact with an author will inspire them in reading and writing.”