10-year-old Jack Ponder is undertaking a NASA Program online.
10-year-old Jack Ponder is undertaking a NASA Program online. john mccutcheon

Jack can ponder the world of space thanks to NASA

JACK Ponder has stars in his eyes. And space shuttles. And mobile phones. And neutrons. And more.

The Burnside 10-year-old has been given a new perspective on all of the above, and more, thanks to NASA.

He was chosen to be part of a special mentoring program the space agency runs for kids to foster an interest in science.

The program began as NASA GIRLS to encourage more females into science, but has been extended to become NASA BOYS.

Through the program, Jack is being mentored by an expert in robotic operations, Mike Ferullo.

The two hook-up for a one-hour Skype chat every Friday during what will be a five- or six-week program.

Jack has the week to research different topics and prepare questions.

Lee Ponder said the program had made a world of difference to her son, who has learning difficulties as a result of autistic spectrum disorder and is home-schooled.

"In the first 10 minutes, it was like he was a different kid," she said.

Jack rated his NASA time as 10 out of 10, compared to four out of 10 for English.

He said he had particularly enjoyed the videos and stories Mr Ferullo shared, while his favourite topics so far had been "gravity, the atmosphere, the sun, earth and everything".

Mrs Ponder heard about the program through another mother involved with the same home-schooling group.

Entry to the program is open only to United States citizens.

Jack qualifies thanks to a stroke of luck.

Lee and her husband, Fergus, won green cards in a lottery years ago.

Fergus and his brother, Lachlan, were born in the US and the family has dual US-Australian citizenship.


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