COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -

The 29th National Space Symposium opened its doors to students Wednesday, allowing them the opportunity to meet space industry leaders who inspired them to pursue careers in space.

The Space Foundation's Teacher Liaison program gives educators interested in areas of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), a chance to take their high school students to the Space Symposium's Lockheed Martin Exhibit Center.  

Janet Stevens, vice president of marketing and communications for the Space Foundation, told KRDO NewsChannel 13 that the tour provides kids a unique chance to think about their career aspirations.

"The students get to see what it is like in the real world," Stevens said.  "They get to hear about the kinds of things that, if they grow up to be engineers and scientists, that they could possibly build or invent.  It often inspires them to choose a career that they might not otherwise choose -- things that they night not think of."

Neva Nardone, a teacher liaison, agreed that her students were thinking about the future.

"I talk about the symposium all year long," Nardone said.  "This is an opportunity for them to see beyond high school."

360 students filed through the exhibit in groups, visiting specific exhibitors with presentations geared towards them.

Nick Gibbs, a senior at Peyton High School, aspires to be an engineer and said the visit opened his eyes to different career paths.

"I wish we had more science classes," Gibbs said of his school.  "It's pretty cool after coming and seeing everything."  

Gibbs thanked his teacher, Tom Cole, for becoming a liaison and providing him the opportunity.

"It's a lot of fun, and the way he made it sound didn't give it justice for how cool it is here," Gibbs said.

Space Foundation teacher liaisons serve as active links between the Space Foundation and the liaisons' schools and school districts and often work with other space organizations, such as NASA.

Teacher liaisons may be any professional or informal educator in the pre-K through higher education arena.

To find out how to apply to be a teacher liaison, click here. 

The 29th National Space Symposium runs April 8-11.  To learn more, click here.