On Monday, Feb. 23, the students at Fassett Middle School had a wonderful opportunity to witness science and technology at their greatest.
About a year ago, Karina Claydon, eighth-grade science/math teacher, along with Steve Michalski from the Toledo Mobile Radio Association applied for Fassett to be considered for a contact with the International Space Station.
The program, known as A.R.I.S.S. (Amateur Radio on the International Space Station), was started about nine years ago to connect classrooms on Earth with astronauts in space for about 10 minutes. During the connection, students would have the opportunity to ask questions of the astronauts.
Close to a year later, a date was set with NASA for the link to be connected. The long-awaited for assembly began with a presentation by Mrs. Claydon to the sixth, seventh and eighth graders about ham radio, the electromagnetic spectrum, radio waves, future space travel, Ohio astronauts and mission patches. She also talked about Col. Michael Fincke, the astronaut scheduled to talk to the students that day.
Col. Fincke, who is a commander of the space station’s Expedition 18, is a two-time astronaut who has been on the International Space Station since October. NASA’s plan is for him to return in April.
Sixteen students were chosen to read their questions in front of the assembly. All the students listened intently to Fincke’s responses. In the background, a map indicated the relative positions of the International Space Station and Fassett during the linkup.
During the link-up, Col. Fincke discussed the importance of education, including the study of math and science. He also noted that being multi-lingual is beneficial (he is fluent in Russian and Japanese, which is important in the communication with the Russian astronauts). Fincke flew to the ISS with the Russians, not on the American space shuttle.
The astronaut also told students that there are about 30 to 40 experiments being conducted at one time at the Space Station. In addition, he told students he was able to communicate with his family via voice Internet.
Fassett student Carlito Avilla was curious about how astronauts used restroom facilities. Fincke told the students that obviously the astronauts couldn’t “hold it” for six months, so they use two hoses- one for “number one” and one for “number two.”
The week ended with the student assembly, with students wearing their International Space Station T-shirts and enjoying a cup of Tang – the same beverage drunk by John Glenn during NASA’s Gemini Program.
“Fassett is grateful for all the work done Steve Michalski and by the Radio Club – it took many hours to set up the equipment ant towers,” Mrs. Claydon said.
For more information on how to make this connection in your school, team or group, contact Michalski at http://www.qsl.net/kb9ups/.
Fassett teacher Karina Claydon gets ready to hand off the microphone to Steve Michalski, from Toledo Mobile Radio Association, just before contact is made with the International Space Station.