Astronauts In Orbit Chat With Eager Mansfield ISD Students
astronauts Dan Burbank and Flight Engineer Don Pettit spent Jan. 31 video chatting with Mansfield ISD students.
MANSFIELD (CBSDFW.COM) – On Tuesday afternoon, fifth and sixth graders from Asa E. Low Intermediate School anxiously awaited a direct link to the vast, cold darkness of outer space.
As the kids squirmed in their seats at the Willie Pigg Auditorium at Wester Middle School, officials put the final touches on the video and audio link that would connect them live to two orbiting astronauts.
This technology would soon allow these wide-eyed students a chance to see first-hand what education can do for them.
Within minutes, the giant video monitor lit up with a live picture inside Houston’s Cap Com room. Workers were at their stations, each playing an integral part of this galactic conversation that was about to get underway.
Then, the buzz of the students was broken up by loud voices coming over the speakers.
Capcom: Station, this is Houston. Are you ready for the event?
Station: Houston, this is Station, we are ready.
Capcom: Asa E Low Intermediate school, this is Mission Control, Houston. Please call station for a voice check.
Asa E Low: Station, this is Asa E Low Intermediate school. How do you hear me?
Station: We are ready to speak to you!
And with that, the conversation was on. From a pool of more than 2,000 questions submitted, 25 made the final cut. Each was asked by a student who took to the stage and identified themselves before firing off their queries.
Like this one, from sixth grader Patrick Wickstrom:
Patrick Wickstrom: “Do you sweat in space, and if so, does it float?”
The answer from astronauts Dan Burbank and Flight Engineer Don Pettit was a resounding “yes.”
They explained to the students that the heavy gear they wear on the ride into space causes body temperatures to increase, making them perspire.
Once in the zero gravity environment of space, they said that sweat tends to come off their skin if it’s shaken off. It then floats around in little water balls, or drops, around the station.
The kids let out a chorus of laughter after that visualization.
The questions ranged from real sweat to the sweat equity required to do what astronauts do.
Burbank and Pettit explained the importance of math and science classes and how they play a large role in the type of job they have today.
The students learned if there was an “in space” medial emergency, all on board are prepared to handle various treatments.
They have an extensive supply of medical equipment and if they need to do something they’re not familiar with, they can receive guidance from professionals back on Earth.
Keeping in touch with loved ones back on the ground is relatively easy today.
The astronauts said they use the same things that can be found in plenty of American households: They can beam an email with a computer or have a video chat with family members using Skype.
It was a great opportunity for students to experience what the power of education can do.
Patricia Londono is a sixth grade science teacher at Asa E Low, and she is the reason this day came to be.
“It’s always my goal to expose my kids to as many things as possible,” she said. “This is just an opportunity that I couldn’t imagine.”
The space chat was a big success for the students and staff. Everyone expressed amazement at the ability to converse, in real time, with two American Heroes floating in the gravity free environment of space.
While the future of the space program is a subject of debate from Washington D.C. to the space coast and on to Houston, one thing is certain: Tuesday’s chat proved that young minds can be inspired by outside-the-box moments like these.
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