News / Science & Technology

Students on Class Trip 'Visit' Space Station Astronauts

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station spoke with Washington, D.C. middle school students on Tuesday about what it is like to live and work in space.

It was not a typical class trip.

More than 100 students gathered in an auditorium at the Department of Education for an out of-this-world experience.  Row upon row of students, ranging from about 10 to 13 years of age looked straight ahead.      

It started with some space trivia questions, prompting students to eagerly raise their hands.

QUESTIONER:  "Now, what year did we launch STS [i.e., Space Transportation System] 1 -- the first space shuttle?  You weren't alive!  Was it 1979, 1981 or 1983?  Let's see, right here."
STUDENT:  "1981."
QUESTIONER:  "It was 1981.  You guys are good!  [APPLAUSE  Fade Under TEXT Below]"   

But the real draw for these students was the chance for them to ask questions of three NASA astronauts who are living on the International Space Station.  The astronauts appeared on a big screen in the auditorium, live via a video link.  An empty white space suit floated behind the trio in near-zero gravity, like an observer.  

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan spoke into the microphone that the students would use to ask questions of the astronauts.  After a short delay, NASA astronaut Doug Wheelock responded from aboard the orbiting laboratory.

DUNCAN:  "Station, this is Arne Duncan, and we have some fantastic students here from Deal Middle School and Hart Middle School . . .
WHEELOCK:  "We have you loud and clear.  Welcome aboard the International Space Station."

At least one student's jaw dropped in excitement.  Many craned their necks, eager to get a better view.  Some snapped photos of the screen showing Commander Wheelock and fellow astronauts Shannon Walker and Scott Kelly.

Then the questions, written in advance with their teachers' seals of approvals, began.

STUDENT 1:  "What kind of research are you working on, and how will it help us understand our planet and the universe?"
STUDENT 2:   "How do you communicate with other crew members if people are from different countries?"
STUDENT 3:  "What is the most beautiful thing you have ever seen from space?"
STUDENT 4:  "What inspired you to become an astronaut?"
STUDENT 5:  "Do you feel like your job is dangerous?"

The astronauts answered each question, after about a five-second delay.

WHEELOCK:  "We have at any one given time over 130 experiments going on onboard.  We're studying the Earth, studying space, studying our bodies and our bodies' reactions to being in space."
WALKER:  "One thing we have to do is learn different languages.  Another thing is we generally speak English aboard the space station.  But I can assure you, when I was studying in Russia to be the co-pilot of the Soyuz, I had to learn the Russian language so I could communicate with the Russian control center in Russian."
WHEELOCK: "We actually had a night where the moon was full and the sun was coming up, and we had this beautiful aurora, and the moon was shining off the aurora, as was the sun, the rising sun.  And so it was pretty dramatic and just a beautiful, beautiful picture."
KELLY:  "When I was a kid, it was definitely something I was interested in.  Well, you know, flying in space is somewhat dangerous.  You know, we're flying around the Earth at 17,500 miles an hour [28,000 kilometers per hour] in an almost near vacuum."    

NASA and the Department of Education say the goal of the event was to show students the value of studying science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Walter, an 11 year-old student who has received top marks in math and science, got the message. "Well, it kind of inspired me to move on to greater things than I thought I could achieve," he said.  

Walter says he might want to be an astronaut after seeing what he thought were amazing things.  

"In outer space, they took like the 335-pound [152 kilogram] space suit and they picked it up since there was no gravity.  That was kind of cool!," he said.

Eleven-year-old Emily says the coolest things she saw were pictures of our own planet that astronauts have taken from orbit.  A particularly memorable one showed a heart-shaped island in bright blue water.      

"It was just, like, it seemed just unreal in a way like that -- how close up and just how amazing it is to see from the outside," she said.    

It might be a view that some of these students will see for themselves.  More than a dozen hands shot into the air when the students were asked whether they wanted be one of the astronauts who will visit Mars one day.

You May Like

Photogallery US Storm Falls Short of Severe Predictions, Yet Affects Millions

NYC mayor says, 'This is nothing like we feared it would be,' yet blizzard warnings, travel bans remain for several East Coast states More

Millions of Displaced Nigerians Struggle with Daily Existence

Government acknowledges over a million people were displaced in 2014 due to fight against Boko Haram insurgency More

Facebook: Internal Error to Blame for Outages

Temporary outage appeared to spill over and temporarily slow or block traffic to other major Internet sites More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid