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STScI Newsletter
2024 / Volume 41 / Issue 01

About this Article

Beneè Coleman (bcoleman[at]

What began as a seemingly routine "bring your kid to work day" swiftly transformed into an extraordinary affair, thanks to the ingenious orchestrations of JWST Mission Operations’ Jennifer Whiteleather. In the absence of formal events as seen in the pre-COVID era, the mission operations team rallied together to ensure a memorable experience for both parents and children.

An enthusiastic group of children and their mentors show off their rockets on a grassy field.
Child participants and members of the JWST Mission Operations team celebrate “Bring Your Child to Work Day”

Jen, with her boundless creativity and unwavering enthusiasm, elevated the day to unprecedented heights. "Would you like to do some educational-type activities with the kids?" she proposed, igniting a spark of anticipation among the select few who would attempt to share how their parents afford life's necessities but more importantly toys.

Equipped with a treasure trove of intriguing projects, Jen embarked on a mission to captivate young minds and instill a sense of awe. Origami rocket kits soared alongside endeavors to comprehend the vast expanse of the universe through interactive projects. From IR camera photos to stomp rocket kits, each activity was meticulously curated to ignite curiosity and foster exploration.

The custom 3D printed gingerbread mold in shown over the baked parts of the gingerbread, ready for commissioning.
Gingerbread JWST: Mold designed and 3D printed by William Tippet and Kirk Glassmire; Cookie recipe provided by Carma's Café

The day extended far beyond mere entertainment. The activities included real mission operations processes into the fabric of the day, as Jen offered a glimpse into the inner workings of JWST Mission Operations. Older children stepped into the roles of mentors, guiding their younger counterparts with camaraderie and mirroring the collaborative spirit of a professional workplace.

Jen's insightful narratives not only enlightened young minds but also bestowed a newfound admiration upon their parents. She transformed mundane tasks into exhilarating adventures, leaving a permanent mark on all who bore witness. 

The culmination of efforts was nothing short of extraordinary—a symphony of learning, discovery, and sheer joy. As the day drew to a close, she set the stage for future iterations, raising the bar to new heights. Her vision, her passion, and her unwavering commitment had set a new standard for "bring your kid to work day," leaving all in attendance eagerly anticipating what wonders the next year would bring.

The mission operations team would like to offer additional thanks to Carma's Café for assisting with the edible JWST cookies, Zak Concannon for artwork photos and all the flight operations staff who assisted in the planning and testing of projects.

A 3D printed Ariane 5 rocket model with a tiny folded up JWST in the capsule, sits on a table in the foreground as a mentor talks to the children.
Jennifer Whiteleather giving a lesson on JWST mission operations
A child and her mentor work on origami, that helps people understand how JWST fit into the rocket capsule.
Lily Hensel mentoring Reagan Coleman
A mentor demonstrates a stomp rocket on a grassy field.
Jennifer Whiteleather constructing a stomp rocket




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