Michigan Students Connect with Orbiting Astronauts for Out of this World Conversation


WASHINGTON -- Astronauts orbiting 220 miles above Earth will discuss science with students of the Troy School District in Troy, Mich., on Feb. 1. The call between the students and International Space Station Commander Jeff Williams and Flight Engineers T.J. Creamer and Soichi Noguchi will take place from 9:10 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. CST at Athens High School in Troy.

U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, U.S. Rep. Gary Peters, state Sen. John Pappageorge and state Rep. Marty Knollenberg also will be in attendance. U.S. Sen. Carl Levin will send the students a video welcome.

To develop an understanding of microgravity and orbital motion in preparation for the call with the astronauts, students wrote proposals for NASA programs to design, build and test their own microgravity experiments. Four teams from Troy Athens High School were selected for NASA's Dropping In a Microgravity Environment, or DIME, program and a team from Smith Middle School was selected for NASA's What If No Gravity? or WING, program.

The teams will send their science experiments to NASA's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland to be tested in its drop tower, where the falling experiments will experience a few seconds of weightlessness, similar to the microgravity astronauts experience continuously in space. The experiments and resulting data will be returned to the teams so they can prepare reports about their findings.

Reporters interested in attending the event should contact Tim McAvoy of the Troy School District at 248-823-4035 by 5 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 29.

On the day of the call, students also will have the opportunity to look at the sun through telescopes and walk through a 2-D map of the space station created by third grade classes. They also will explore booths set up by local science and engineering companies, Michigan State University, the University of Michigan and Wayne State University to promote student interest in careers in science, technology, engineering and math.

The event is part of a series with educational organizations in the U.S. and abroad to improve teaching and learning in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The in-orbit call, as well as the DIME and WING programs, are part of Teaching From Space, a NASA project that uses the unique environment of human spaceflight to promote learning opportunities and build partnerships with the kindergarten through 12th grade education community.

NASA Television will air video from the space station during the event. For NASA TV downlink, schedule and streaming video information, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/ntv

For information about NASA's DIME and WING student competitions, visit: http://spaceflightsystems.grc.nasa.gov/DIME.html

For information about NASA's education programs, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/education

For information about the International Space Station, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/station

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