HUDSON — When he was a kid, Christopher Mick wanted to be an astronaut. He took flying lessons with his dad and scuba diving lessons in preparation for it.
“I was doing all the things, exercising and extra science fairs, and all the things I could do to help myself,” he said.
Then he found out, he was too tall.
NASA has a cut maximum height for astronauts.
“At the time the cut off was 6 feet 3 inches, and I’m 6’5”, so I topped out,” he said.
Still, he’s found a way to channel the passion.
Mick is known as the “Space Guy” by many in Hudson. He started Space St. Croix, a program that connects students with the space-related resources he has as a child.
“It kind of goes to show that if you love something, you’re going to find a way,” he said.
Mick has worked with the Hudson Area Public Library for the last five years to create space and STEM-related events. He officially joined the staff two years ago, developing STEM programming for the library.
“The library was looking to provide more diverse service and more services, and that sort of fit into their portfolio of how they wanted to be reaching out,” he said.
Though the outbreak of COVID-19 has closed the library and put an end to this in-person programming, Mick and the other library staff are still working to connect with the community.
Hudson Area Public Library has been using its Facebook page and Youtube channel to connect virtually. Storytimes stream live during their regular times, videos walk through craft activities, author and staff member Shelley Tougas is reading chapters from her book, and the Easter bunny made a visit to a winning neighborhood over the weekend.
“We know we can’t come to the library, but how can we keep them engaged,” Christopher Mick said.
Mick is transferring his STEM programming online as well.
He’s filmed a variety of STEM videos showcasing activities they would have done at a library event, from baking soda rockets to a cloud in a jar. He puts up three a week.
He’s put up resources and links for experiments and projects that kids can do at home. He’s also rounded up content from others.
“There’s a lot of great content that people are putting out there,” he said.
Mick was leading a couple storytime groups that he is working to continue now. He recently did a Zoom interview with one of the authors to take the place of an in-person meeting.
“I think part of it is maintaining the routines with the kids and families,” he said.
He’s also working to continue two efforts to involve young girls in STEM - the Girls Who Code programming and a planned girls STEM camp.
To keep those girls engaged with STEM during this time, he’s collecting 10-15 video interviews with women in aerospace careers. He has three lined up now, with women from Colorado, Israel and Italy.
“Hopefully that’s an inspirational, motivational thing to keep them engaged,” Mick said, until they can start the camp in person.
Mick’s Space St. Croix is still finding ways to stay active as well. He was able to make most of his school visits before they were closed down. Now, he is keeping the social media active, doing giveaways for items such as rocket posters and bookmarks.
“I’m experimenting with wanting to stay engaged with people and what works and what people are responding to,” he said.
He’s had people reach out to him, including a group from the United Kingdom that wanted him to submit a space-related video.
“That kind of community I’m in, we’re all trying to help each other out,” he said.