Winmalee students visit outer space

A Blue Mountains school has taken real-world learning off the planet.

22 April 2021
A group of students stand in front of a screen
Image: Once in a lifetime: The students from Winmalee Public School who spoke with the astronaut.

Students from Winmalee Public School learnt from outer space yesterday when they spoke to Astronaut Victor Glover on the International Space Station via radio hookup.

Eight students made direct contact with the International Space Station while Mr Glover was orbiting the earth at 27,000 km/h at an altitude of 430 kilometres on Tuesday night.

Minister for Education Sarah Mitchell said she was thrilled that the space station could be brought into the classroom and for students to have this rare opportunity.

“It’s an incredible opportunity for students to be able to speak with an astronaut and connect what they’re learning at school to real life events,” Ms Mitchell said.

Students aged 5-11 prepared questions around topics, including what microgravity feels like, the experiments done on the International Space Station, what happens in an emergency, space junk, and even what personal items are allowed.

Principal Kate Ford said all of the students were very excited about the event.

“All of our students have been studying a unit on space this term in Science, with a focus on the International Space Station, so they were in a great position to ask some excellent questions,” Ms Ford said.

“It’s hard to imagine anything more inspiring in Science than to be able talk live to an astronaut while they’re in space. I’m sure the enthusiasm this exercise has generated will stay with many of our students for a long time.”

Students were contacted by NASA’s mission control in Houston, Texas at 5.40pm to prepare for the 6.30pm contact. The actual time that the station remained in radio range before it dipped below the horizon was about 11 minutes.

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