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From The Classroom To The Wild Blue Yonder


Five stories that have North Texas talking: Irving teacher wants to get lost in space, DFW is population boom town, Lady Gaga has Dallas to thank for unconventional wheels and more.

It’s up, up and away for a North Texas teacher. Michael Johnson worked as a baggage handler and flight attendant before teaching aviation at Irving and Desoto high schools, but he’s about to add another job title to his resume: Citizen Astronaut.

Johnson got the nod for training in a civilian space exploration program. Edward Wright of Plano heads up the nonprofit United States Rocket Academy which bought rides on a suborbital space plane still in development. If this flight takes off as planned, it won’t be an hours-long romp through weightlessness. The plane would take-off, hit about 200,000 feet, and return to earth in less than half an hour. [Dallas Morning News]

  • DFW is giving a warm Texas welcome to…. a whole lot of people. The Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex recorded the largest population increase in the nation from July 1, 2011, to July 1, 2012, adding 131,879 residents, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates just released. That two percent jump pushed the DFW population over 6.7 million. The second place award for growth goes to Houston. [Star-Telegram]

  • While population is booming in Texas metro areas, rural counties may have cause for concern. According to new census data, more than one in three U.S. counties are now dying off, due to weak local economies and an aging population. The rural parts of East Texas fall into this category, having what the census calls “natural decrease.” Fewer births and more deaths as baby boomers age mean this phenomenon could last a while. [NPR]

  • During an emergency, should you be banished to another room while paramedics perform CPR on a loved one? New research says, not necessarily. The only American among the study is Texas Tech’s Stephen Borron and new data shows keeping family members away while medics work could do more harm than good. Those who don’t witness CPR are 60 percent more likely to have symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression. [NPR]

  • Since Dallas knows a thing or two about glitz and luxury, you might not be surprised to learn Lady Gaga’s over-the-top, gold plated wheelchair has Big D roots. After she suffered a hip injury, her stylist contacted jewelry designer Ken Borochov, of the label Mordekai, to design the chair.  The Daily Beast reports Borochov said 1.5 ounces of gold were plated onto the chair “in Dallas at a customizing car factory that does hot rods and stuff. I wanted [the wheelchair] to look like a throne.”
Courtney Collins has been working as a broadcast journalist since graduating from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in 2004. Before coming to KERA in 2011, Courtney worked as a reporter for NPR member station WAMU in Washington D.C. While there she covered daily news and reported for the station’s weekly news magazine, Metro Connection.