Winfree Bryant Middle School students and faculty will get one-on-one time with an astronaut live on the International Space Station on Tuesday.
The school will be connected to the space station through amateur radio. Science teacher Tammy Sheppard said the school received the opportunity through a proposal sent to NASA last fall.
“I have been working with NASA since 2010 in various capacities,” Sheppard said. She noted that teachers and administrators can visit the NASA website and view opportunities for learning activities.
“It’s been a wonderful, great ride through the process,” Sheppard said.
Winfree Bryant is one of a handful of schools selected for the connection, and it’s the only school in Tennessee to receive the honor. Sheppard said the school competed against others from across the country to get the opportunity.
“We are one of a handful in the U.S. and across the world,” she said.
The students were asked to write an essay addressing their questions and thoughts. Sheppard said teachers looked at those essays and selected 17 questions to submit to the astronauts to get their responses.
“Our window we will be able to connect is 11:12-11:22 a.m. In those 10 minutes, we have 17 questions that we are trying to get answered. We want to make sure we get them all in,” she said.
According to principal Becky Kegley, anticipation has brewed throughout the last several weeks at Winfree Bryant as space station history and mission control were the emphasis of the school’s newsletters, hallway bulletins and daily announcements. Also, teachers across varying content areas have incorporated lessons regarding space, astronomy, NASA and the ISS into their subject curriculum.
The event is made possible through Amateur Radio on the International Space Station, a cooperative venture among NASA and other international space agencies that coordinates scheduled radio contacts between astronauts aboard the ISS and schools. The 10-minute live forum will bounce between Winfree Bryant students and astronauts as the astronauts orbit 250 miles above earth.
Kegley said a school-wide study of NASA and the International Space Station would take place in every classroom, in every grade level, every day for the next two weeks. ARISS and Teaching From Space, a NASA education office, encourages participating schools to lay such groundwork as part of its goal to instill interest in science, technology, engineering and math subjects and careers among students.
The ARISS radio contact is one in a series with educational activities in the U.S. and abroad to improve teaching and learning in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. It is an integral component of Teaching From Space, a NASA Education office. The office promotes learning opportunities and builds partnerships with the education community using the unique environment of human spaceflight.