Alumni Profile: Jackson Morse '21
Jackson Morse ’21 works as an educator at the EcoTarium’s newly renovated Alden Planetarium. On October 5, WPI Voyagers (formerly Tech Old Timers) will host an onsite event featuring a presentation by Jackson followed by a planetarium show and self-tour of the museum. For details and registration, click here.
Ahead of the event, we caught up with Jackson to learn about how his WPI experience led him to the planetarium and what to expect from the event.
Who made an impact on your WPI experience? Is there a particular faculty member, coach, advisor, or someone else who made the difference for you?
Two people stand out to me during my WPI experience. Professor Doug Petkie and Coach Mike Callahan. Coach Callahan taught me even more about baseball than I thought there was to know, as well as valuable life lessons about myself and the work/life/play balance. He could be stern but never unfair, and sometimes you need that kick in the butt from a coach to really hammer something home. He also taught me how to push myself physically in a safe and healthy manner, something I still carry with me today. Professor Petkie offered a different role for me, acting as an educational lighthouse of sorts, making sure I could find my way even if I felt lost or confused. Sometimes we still ended up confused anyways, but Prof Petkie was still there regardless. I gained so much valuable experience my senior year, and a huge part of it was the MQP I did under Profs Petkie and Rudra Kafle. I've been able to take what I learned from this and put it towards my internship experience as well as my time here at the EcoTarium.
What lessons learned at WPI do you carry forward into your work at the planetarium?
Most of the lessons I still carry with me from WPI come from my project experiences, both IQP and MQP. Project presentations were certainly common among WPI courses, and I still use the public speaking skills I learned from prepping for projects today. The most prevalent being able to talk to your audience in such a way that you keep them engaged, as well as covering a baseline understanding of content so no one feels left out of context. Both huge lessons when speaking with children about science.
What excites you most about your new role at the planetarium?
Most exciting to me about my new role at the Planetarium would be the extra questions kids and families have after the shows. Kids have so much imagination and are never afraid to ask sometimes silly questions. They don't care if it's silly, they just want to know more about space! This type of excitement I get to see when I can answer a question for a child is unparalleled, and I'd like to think it's the "secret stuff" of informal education. This excitement is the same that I felt when I was little and my dad would take me to museums and planetariums. Being able to give that feeling back to a new generation seems like the least I can do.
Tell us something interesting we may not know about you.
I went to Japan for IQP and I speak a little bit of Japanese, and I have the JPL director on speed dial what – whaaaat!