About a dozen students from Palm Beach County got to live their dreams by speaking live with an orbiting astronaut on board the International Space Station. The South Florida Science Center and Aquarium recently hosted the ARISS (Amateur Radio on board the International Space Station) event. Students in grades 2-12 from public, private and home schools wrote a 250-word essay on the topic: “If you had a chance to ask an astronaut any question, what would it be and why?”
Paolo Nespoli, the Italian astronaut on board the ISS, answered the twelve winning questions while the space station orbited over the Georgia/Florida border. The communication was done through ham radio, thanks to one of the largest amateur radio organizations in the country that works with the Science Center. Traveling at 17,000 miles per hour 250 miles up in the air, the ISS was only in radio contact for eight minutes. But that was enough to change lives.
“Our sense of exploration, wonder and discovery in space is not dead,” said Lew Crampton, president and CEO of the Science Center. “We’re going to Mars, and some of these young people might be so inspired, they will take their place in history and further the mission. We’re all about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM), and this is the perfect event to inspire the next generation of explorers.”
Parents attended the event, watching each of their children speak into the radio to a human off this planet, adding to the excitement of the special day. Isabella Swiger from Western Pines Middle School asked Nespoli how he does laundry in space. Nespoli answered that water is too precious a resource to wash clothes, so they wear their shirts, underwear, socks, and pants until they throw them away. Nicholas Cruz from Calusa Elementary asked what experiment is helping better our lives on earth.Nespoli said he is working on a fire with flames that burn at a very low temperature.
The full list of students and questions are as follows:
Christopher Andersson, St. Andrew’s School, “What is the most unexpected discovery you have made when doing your science experiments on the International Space Station?”
Eli Fratello, Manatee Elementary, “What do you think the future of air travel will be?”
Kamia Williams, Glade View Elementary, “What is your favorite thing to do in space that feels different than it does here on Earth?”
Dishika Parikh, Elbridge Gale Elementary, “How easy or difficult is it for astronauts to adjust their body’s circadian rhythms knowing that it is always dark in space?”
Josetta Wang, Greenacres Elementary, “If you had suddenly received orders to turn back to earth, what would be the last think you do in space before you head back?”
Nicholas Cruz, Calusa Elementary, “What experiment do you consider to be the one that has best helped us live better on Earth, or one that has helped out the most with space exploration?”
Logan Roe, Everglades Elementary, “Can we launch a rocket from space or from the moon to make it to Mars?”
Hanna Soffan, The Benjamin School, “How does it feel to be at zero gravity?”
Anthony Williams, Roosevelt Middle, “How does an astronaut maneuver the rocket in space?”
Isabella Swiger, Western Pines Middle, “How do Astronauts manage their clothing and do you do laundry in space?”
Lucy Newmyer, Palm Beach Day Academy, “What was your biggest fear during your mission?”
Trakwon Harris, Gaines Park Community Center, “What are the steps of becoming an Astronaut?”
“This incredible opportunity coincides perfectly with our new blockbuster exhibit, Astronaut,” said Lew Crampton, President and CEO of the Science Center. “We are thrilled to open students’ minds to science, encouraging them to look to the sky and beyond for careers in space and STEM-related fields.”
Astronaut immerses visitors in the International Space Station, with hands-on exhibits of what it’s like to blast off into space, train like an astronaut and get an inside look on life off this planet. The exhibit will show what it’s like to sleep, eat, shower and even use the bathroom in space. Visitors will also get the chance to be absorbed in team problem-solving, to overcome challenges, and practice landing a capsule.
Sponsors of this event include BE Aerospace, Comcast, Discover the Palm Beaches, Palm Beach Cultural Council, Quantum Foundation, Tourism Development Council of Palm Beach County and WPBF.
The ARISS program was created and is managed by an international group of amateur radio organizations and space agencies including NASA. ARISS lets students worldwide experience the excitement of talking directly with crew members of the ISS, inspiring them to pursue interests and careers in science, technology, engineering and math, and engaging them with radio science technology through amateur radio.
The mission of the South Florida Science Center and Aquarium is to “open every mind to science” and the indoor/outdoor venue features more than 100 hands-on educational exhibits, a 10,000 gallon fresh and salt water aquarium- featuring both local and exotic marine life, a digital planetarium, conservation research station, Florida exhibit hall, Pre-K focused “Discovery Center,” an interactive Everglades exhibit and the 18-hole Conservation Course – an outdoor putting course with science-focused education stations. For more information, call 561-832-1988 or visit www.sfsciencecenter.org. Like the South Florida Science Center and Aquarium on Facebook and follow them on Twitter and Instagram @SFScienceCenter.