ANAHEIM Students at Betsy Ross Elementary School will have a unique opportunity Monday, April 3: they’ll get to speak directly to astronauts aboard the International Space Station.
More than a dozen students are prepped to ask questions of Expedition 50 Commander Shane Kimbrough and Flight Engineer Peggy Whitson during a 20-minute Earth-to-space call at 8:40 a.m. that will air live on NASA Television and the agency’s website.
Betsy Ross students will watch the exchange and so will thousands of students in classrooms across the Anaheim Elementary School District.
“All the kids are thrilled and they are recognizing this as a once in a lifetime experience,” said third-grade teacher Sarah Cordett, one of the teachers who applied to NASA for the opportunity to speak with the astronauts.
The students researched the topic and participated in a spelling bee-style competition, where the best questions were selected by a committee.
The usual ‘how do astronauts go to the bathroom’ wouldn’t do. The answer to do that is easily found on You Tube.
“(NASA) wanted the questions to be ungoogable, as much as possible,” Cordett said.
The exchange culminates a months-long exploration of the space program in classrooms across Betsy Ross Elementary, where teachers integrated the subject into language arts, sciences and other classes.
Students engaged in various research projects and activities: third-graders created paper mache astronaut helmets while fourth-graders built models of the International Space Station made from re-purposed materials; students read articles and researched various space-related themes to write reports; they also used virtual reality goggles to tour the space station and see how astronauts live.
“Our school is a technology-based school. We’re already doing coding, robotics, we have a ‘Maker Space’ for science, technology and math activities and filming production,” said Tony Beeson, a Betsy Ross Elementary teacher who specializes in technology. “This is a natural next step for us.”