Out of this world! Lanai kids get picked for live Q&A with ISS astronauts
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Every year, a handful of U.S. schools are chosen from among many that apply to interview astronauts aboard the International Space Station.
The program called ARISS is a joint venture between NASA and amateur radio.
This year, Lanai Elementary School got one of the golden tickets.
“Little Lanai, how did we get chosen? We were one school out of nine in the entire country to be chosen for this opportunity. So it’s been really exciting!” said fifth-grade teacher Danyel Erickson.
She’s the person who’s responsible for the school’s involvement with ARISS.
She found out about it through a friend who is an astronomer.
“I only had a few weeks to fill out the proposal last March. I said, ‘You know what? This sounds exciting. Let’s give it a shot,’” she said.
That shot in the dark hit the bullseye. On a day later this month, with the help of a Ham radio operator, the school will hook up with the Space Station for a live question-and-answer session with one of its astronauts.
Students will have a 12-minute window to squeeze in their questions, and hear the astronaut’s answers.
“I would like to know how they celebrate their birthdays in space,” said eight-year-old Esther Shuster.
Fifth-grader Rainy Sison plans to ask about the Space Station’s mission.
“What was one of their most exciting discoveries that they have made?” he said.
Even Erickson has pondered what she would ask if she gets the chance.
“My question for the astronaut would be, ‘Is there a teacher that inspired you in your journey to become an astronaut?’” she said.
To get ready for the space talk, the kids have watched videos about the Space Station, and they have learned about how amateur radio operators step in when emergencies cut off other lines of communication.
“This is our way to communicate in events of emergency,” Erickson said. “This is our lifeline for getting ahold of emergency services and making sure that people are safe.”
Some of Lanai’s middle and high school students will also join the ARISS event.
At the elementary school, Erickson started a science club, and took students to stargazing events and on a field trip to meet an astronaut.
She has been working on the project since the school was notified a year ago.
“It is a big event. It’s hyped up a lot. I know I’m starting to feel some anxiety myself,” she said.
The hookup with the Space Station is scheduled for March 23.
The experience for Lanai Elementary School will be out of this world. And like NASA says, the countdown to liftoff is on.
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