Are You Ready for Space Day?
It's a busy time of year. The end of the school year is approaching, and summer is almost here, but another important event is coming soon -- Space Day is just around the corner on May 4, 2006. If you don't have your Space Day plans already, you're in luck. NASA, AOL and the Space Day organization are working together to give your students a front-row seat for a great Space Day event.
Image to right: Millions of students around the world have participated in Space Day events. Credit: Space Day
NASA is also participating in a Space Day event on Friday at the National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center near Washington. Associate Administrator Rex Geveden, astronaut Carl Walz and educator astronaut Ricky Arnold will address the gathering.
Space Day started in 1997 as a grassroots educational initiative held each year on the first Thursday in May. The goal of Space Day is to use the excitement of space exploration to encourage students' interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center will be hosting one of the most exciting Space Day events. Astronauts and other spaceflight experts will share with students about training for space, traveling to space, and living and working in space. Thanks to a NASA partnership with AOL's service for kids, KOL™ (Kids Online), the event will be webcast so that students around the world can watch. Information about the event and educational activities will be available on the KOL Expeditions and Educator Astronaut project Web sites. KOL Expeditions are fun, online learning adventures for elementary-aged students that combine video, photos, activities, and printables into an entertaining and educational interactive experience about the world of science and space exploration.
Image to left: KOL's DJ Rick will host the webcast. Credit: AOL
Radio KOL's DJ, Rick Adams, will emcee the hour-long webcast with the help of NASA astronauts. Approximately 2,000 students have been invited to attend the event in person and will be able to ask questions of the speakers. Space Day participation is not limited just to people ON the planet. Students participating in Space Day will have an "out of this world" opportunity to talk with crew members aboard the International Space Station.
The ISS is a giant laboratory, orbiting over 200 miles above the surface of Earth. The current crew onboard is Expedition 13. Pavel Vinogradov is the ISS commander and Jeff Williams is flight engineer and NASA science officer. Their mission work focuses on preparing the ISS for assembly, performing maintenance operations and conducting science experiments in microgravity. The crew will pause from their normal work to talk with students participating in Space Day. During this 20-minute period, students will ask questions and the crew will answer. (The downlink can also be viewed on NASA TV.)
"We're thrilled to participate with NASA in Space Day to allow AOL's KOL kid users and Radio KOL fans the opportunity to learn directly from astronauts about space travel and rockets, plus have the opportunity to get to talk live to the International Space Station crew," said KOL education director Mark Stevens.
Space Day program manager Kay Armstrong said that the goal of the program is to inspire the people who will carry out exploration in the future. "As the Baby Boomer generation retires, the demand for young scientists and engineers is expected to increase at almost four times the rate of all other occupations," she said. "In 10 years there will be a major work force gap in technical industries if we do not strengthen the interest today's young people have in math, science, technology and engineering."
Image to left: The Expedition 13 crew of the space station will talk with students live from orbit. Credit: NASA
Mike Green, acting manager of NASA's Educator Astronaut project, said that efforts like this are an important part of preparing for the agency's future. "NASA Education is always looking for new ways to get kids excited about exploration and space," he said. "We model our unique activities to inspire, engage, educate and employ the next generation of explorers. This is the beginning of a new partnership with AOL that will get students to see the importance of spaceflight and the Vision for Space Exploration. It's the start of exciting things to come with NASA education."
Around the world, hundreds of thousands of teachers and millions of students have participated in Space Day events, which have been held in 21 countries. Through media coverage, almost a billion people have learned about Space Day programs. The program, which is supported by more than 70 official partner institutions, has been honored with the Space Foundation's Education Achievement Award.
In addition to watching the webcast, your school may want to hold its own Space Day events. To learn more, visit the links in the Related Resources box above.
David Hitt/NASA Educational Technology Services