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Astronauts Make Long Distance Calls From ISS To Elementary School Students

Space: the most adorable frontier

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Wanna get children into science? Talking about it with them is a good start. Of course, if you’re an astronaut currently aboard the International Space Station, odds are you’re going to get the kids’ attentions a lot quicker than their parents or teachers can.

Communicating with the ISS is harder than just booting up Skype, of course. As we know from Nat Geo Channel’s Live From Space special earlier this year, the communication links between the ISS and Mission Control Centers cut out every twenty to thirty minutes because of changes in satellite locations that cut into the signal. But that doesn’t stop crew members about the station from engaging with kids all across the world through streaming video, and even running student-developed experiments on occasion.

Just such an encounter occurred at the Infinity Science Center in Hancock County, Missouri yesterday, as nearly 300 local students got the chance to speak with Expedition Commander Steve Swanson and Flight Engineer Reid Wiseman (currently the only two Americans on board) over a video conference call. A week ago, a similar call to kids at Fontana Grant’s Elementary School in Southern California was also streamed to the Internet for non-elementary age space enthusiasts to watch, and before that, the Winfree Bryant Middle School in Lebanon, Tennessee also hosted their own event as well.

At these events, children get to ask the astronauts whatever they can think of about what life is like up in space. Swanson and Wiseman are particularly good with kids; when asked if working in zero gravity is difficult, Wiseman told the children (as Swanson spun around behind him): “Once you get over the fact that it’s very tough, its the best jungle gym. It’s absolutely the most fun you could ever work in your life.”

Unfortunately astronauts don’t get to do this sort of thing all the time, seeing as they have very important science to do up there among the stars. But the local educators who coordinate these calls hope that the kids who get the opportunity to speak with the ISS will be inspired to become astronauts or scientists in the future.

“We are inspiring the next generation to become the next NASA engineer or the next astronaut themselves and be passionate about STEM careers,” Winfree Bryant teacher Tammy Sheppard said.

(via WLOX.com, original image via NASA)

Previously in ISS

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