ATLANTA – Mercer’s STEM Education Innovation (SEI) Lab, the Hines Family Foundation, Georgia Tech Aerospace Engineering Department, Georgia Space Grant Consortium and Morehouse Center for Educational Excellence, in coordination with Christina Korp of Purpose Entertainment, on Oct. 11 unveiled a 4,800-square-foot earthwork portrait of NASA astronaut Stephanie Wilson in celebration of International Day of the Girl.

The earthwork was designed by artist Stan Herd in Woodruff Park in downtown Atlanta to raise awareness of NASA’s Artemis Program, which plans to land the first woman and the first person of color on the moon. Wilson has spent more time in space – 42 days over three flights – than any other female astronaut.

Ashlee Lee
Ashlee Lee

Ashlee Lee, a doctoral student in Mercer’s Curriculum and Instruction Program and a SEI Lab Fellow, served as project coordinator for an accompanying science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) project with 16 Metro Atlanta-area schools and three children’s hospitals. 

The participating K-12 students and children’s hospital patients created more than 1,400 unique artworks on ceramic tiles based on the theme, “What Space Means to Me.” These art pieces were used to create a frame around the earthwork and to spell out “#AimHigher,” the theme for the event.

During the week leading up to the unveiling of the earthwork, several educational activities were organized for K-12 schools in honor of International Space Week. These events included livestreams with NASA astronauts and Georgia natives Nicole Stott and Susan Kilrain.

The week culminated with Space Day Atlanta, hosted at Georgia Tech on Oct. 9, including demonstrations and engaging space STEM activities for students. Lee and Chelsea Robinson, another SEI Lab Fellow, assisted with organizing this event.

A reception was also hosted on Oct. 11th in honor of Wilson with keynote speaker Dr. Sian Proctor, who served as mission pilot for the recent Blue Origin space flight and is the first African-American woman to pilot a space flight. Wilson was unable to attend because she is serving on the backup crew for NASA’s next space flight, but she recorded a video message that was shown during the event.

About the College of Education

Mercer University’s Tift College of Education – with campuses in Macon, Atlanta and the University’s two regional academic centers – prepares more professional educators than any other private institution in Georgia. Named for the former women’s college that merged with Mercer in 1986, the College of Education offers baccalaureate and graduate degrees, and is guided by the conceptual framework of the “Transforming Educator,” which supports those who aspire to grow professionally throughout their careers, while also seeking to transform the lives of students. For more information, visit education.mercer.edu.

Kyle is the director of media relations at Mercer. In addition to being the primary media contact for most academic and administrative units of the university, he coordinates hometown and university news releases and serves as editor of the News@Mercer e-newsletter and Reach magazine.​