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CCD Students Beam Up Questions To Space Station


INDIAN HILL -- On March 1, Cincinnati Country Day School students and their science teacher Jan French were scheduled to place a very special and very long distance call -- to the international space station. With the help of Charlie Sufana, their Amateur Radio on the International Space Station liaison/mentor, they were to use a telebridge system to dial up astronaut Bill McArthur and chat with him about life on the International Space Station.

French began planning the project two years ago when she read a notice posted by the National Science Teachers Association.

"When I was young, all we did in science class was read and take tests -- it was very boring," she says. "I'm excited to see how much science education has changed and that we are able to help kids today make the connection -- to think, maybe I could do that someday."

McArthur, who is on duty 10 hours and sleeps about eight hours, must talk to the students on his own time.

"We really appreciate his taking his private time to talk to us," French said, who is in her ninth year of teaching third- through fifth-grade science at CCD.

On the day of the call, the contact will be made via ham radio with the school tied to one of the ARISS ham ground stations via a phone conference call. Charlie Sufana of ARISS will patch the call from Country Day to McArthur.

"The best way I can explain it is he'll use a ham radio to talk to someone else who will then 'patch' it over to the students," French said. McArthur, who has been aboard the space station since October, will be orbiting the earth as he talks to the students. They'll talk for about 10 minutes, long enough for the students to get a sense of what it's like to be in space.

Following in the tradition of NASA astronauts who design their mission patch, the CCDS students are also creating their own patch that will be placed on a button for everyone to wear on the day of the phone call "launch." Students from each of the three grades wrote a question they'd like to ask and French chose 12 students who will each have three questions ready to ask. They'll start their assembly by going outside to launch their model rocket of the space shuttle before being beamed up to the space station.


Here's a sampling of the questions CCDS students will be asking astronaut Bill McArthur:

"What are the coolest, scariest and hardest things you have to do on the International Space Station and why?"

What can I do to become a great astronaut?"

"What are the long-term health problems astronauts experience after returning from a long stay on the space station?"

"What thoughts were going through your head and how did you feel during your first launch and your most recent launch?"

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