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For International Education Week, NASA participated in an event that truly lived up to the occasion's name.
Image to right: Crewmembers aboard the space station answered questions students asked in four languages. Credit: NASA
The event, held in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Education, definitely had an international flavor. Students from the Washington, D.C., area were able to talk with crewmembers from three countries aboard the International Space Station. The crew answered questions in a total of four languages.
One of the highlights of the event was a talk by educator astronaut and mission specialist Barbara Morgan. In the summer of 2007, Morgan is scheduled to become NASA's first educator astronaut to fly into space. She told the students and teachers in the audience about her mission, STS-118.
"My crewmates and I are very, very excited about our small role in helping to finish the construction of the International Space Station, and mostly because it is a big, big stepping stone in our getting back to the moon and on to Mars and beyond," Morgan said.
She explained that, in addition to the mission's important space station assembly tasks, it will also include educational components. These will relate to educational challenges that can be performed in the classroom.
"We truly hope that STS-118 will honor students and teachers everywhere, and we also hope we will be able to provide you with opportunities to directly contribute to our going back to the moon and on to Mars," Morgan said.
In addition to Morgan and fellow educator astronaut Ricky Arnold, NASA Education was represented by Joyce Winterton, the agency's assistant administrator for education.
"For NASA to carry out the Vision for Space Exploration in the coming years, we will need new scientists and engineers," she told the crowd. "It will be a long and challenging journey back to the moon and then to Mars. As I look at many of the young faces here, I think some of you will be those scientists and engineers and pilots who go on to Mars. It is important that you look at your education and you work harder in science and math and plan to go to college, because we need you as part of that program.
"It is the educators of today who will help shape and produce tomorrow's scientists and engineers. Everyday educators create endless opportunities for our young people throughout the country. NASA certainly recognizes the importance of educators because they contribute in making our work possible."
For the students, the highlight of the event was the opportunity to pose questions to Morgan and the crew of the International Space Station. At the time, the crew included NASA astronaut and commander Michael Lopez-Alegria, Russian cosmonaut flight engineer Mikhail Tyurin, and European Space Agency astronaut and flight engineer Thomas Reiter.
Image to left: Astronaut Barbara Morgan told the audience about her upcoming STS-118 space shuttle mission. Credit: NASA
Asking questions in English, Russian, Spanish and French -- all languages spoken by the space station crew -- the students learned more about such things as why the space station is important for science, and what it takes to become an astronaut.
NASA is committed to building strategic partnerships and linkages between science, technology, engineering and mathematics formal and informal educators. Through hands-on, interactive educational activities, NASA is engaging students, educators, families, the general public and all agency stakeholders to increase Americans' science and technology literacy. NASA in-flight education downlinks are coordinated by the Teaching From Space Project.
David Hitt/NASA Educational Technology Services