On Thursday, January 25, around 200 elementary school students from across Upshur County will participate in a live call to the astronauts aboard the International Space Station. Hosted at West Virginia Wesleyan College and assisted by the strategic communications office of NASA’s Independent Verification and Validation (IV&V) Program and NASA’s Johnson Space Flight Center, these students will engage with astronauts in a question-and-answer style session. The questions will be related to classroom studies and students will watch as crew members discuss and demonstrate science, technology, engineering, and mathematical (STEM) concepts in ways that are unique to the environment of space.
Commonly referred to as In-flight Education Downlinks, the Johnson Space Center Office of Education coordinates these interactions and broadcasts them live on NASA TV and the web. In-flight Education Downlinks provide student and educators the opportunity to learn about what it is like to live and work in space by speaking to the crew on-orbit. Prior to a downlink, students study spaceflight and the ISS to help develop questions to ask the crew. Since downlinks began, thousands of students have had the opportunity to participate in a downlink where crew members answered student questions and performed simple educational demonstrations.
“The NASA Downlink has created an excitement for learning about space and science in our elementary students,” Upshur County school counselor Elizabeth Bohman said.
“Students are asking their teachers for books to read about space, engaging their parents in projects, and working collaboratively with each other to build and explore. Fourth and fifth grade classes are preparing for the event by studying the Green Bank Telescope, exploring how a satellite works using Lego robotics, and checking the NASA website daily for ISS updates. The staff and students at our schools truly appreciate this opportunity.”
Students will also have the opportunity to take part in a science carnival, sponsored by WVWC’s Benzene Ring Chemistry Club and the Physics Space Club. College students will rotate the fourth and fifth graders through hands-on STEM activity stations launching rockets, designing and racing paper airplanes, making magnetic slime, learning about the electromagnetic spectrum, and visiting the Planetarium on campus, among other STEM activities. These students will also go through the “Planet Walk” as they cross Wesleyan’s campus to the science carnival, learning about the relative spacing of planets in the Solar System.
A live broadcast will occur on Thursday at 11:30 a.m. at NASA TV at https://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/nasatv/#public
This In-flight Education Downlink is an invite-only event, but media personnel are welcome. If you would like more information about this topic, or to schedule an interview, please call Jesse White at 304-367-8433 or send an email to Jesse.E.White@nasa.gov or contact Jeff Northey at 304-367-8250 (work) or send an email to Jeffrey.R.Northey@nasa.gov
For more information about the International Space Station, please visit: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/main/index.html