Emily Outen
RELEASE : 08-072
08-072: Students Talk Live With NASA Astronaut Aboard Space Station
HAMPTON, Va. -- Enloe Magnet High School students in Raleigh, N.C., made a long distance call Friday to astronaut Michael Fincke aboard the International Space Station, more than 200 miles above Earth.

NASA joined the celebration of International Education Week, a program that emphasizes the global aspect of education, by hosting a live connection with Fincke via amateur radio.

"The faces of those in the auditorium were all glued on the students asking the questions, and on our orbital tracker," said Enloe physics teacher Samuel Wheeler. "It was fantastic. Today, I'm sure there were students sitting in the auditorium who became inspired to pursue science and math as a career."

Enloe students joined their peers from Poolesville High School, Poolesville, Md., and Academia Cotopaxi, Ecuador, to talk with Fincke, the commander of Expedition 18. Students asked questions on topics including amateur radio, Earth observations from the space station and the International Education Week theme "Fostering Global Responsibility and Leadership."

"It was a thrill to listen to students in Maryland, North Carolina and Ecuador connect with Mike Fincke on the International Space Station during the ARISS contact this morning," said Kelly McCormick of NASA's Teaching from Space Office. "Listening in, we could feel the excitement of the students as the ham radio operators around the world came together to facilitate the connection. International Education Week is off to a fantastic start!"

Participating schools were selected based on their affiliation with the Network of Educator Astronaut Teachers (NEAT), a program that enhances educators' skills to convey the importance of science, technology, engineering and math education to their students.

Enloe Magnet High is a NEAT member through their connection with NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va. Educators from Enloe attend hands-on workshops and seminars hosted by NASA Langley that demonstrate innovative methods for teaching technical subjects. Langley also helps keep teachers informed about future career opportunities for their students in the space program and how to prepare students for those opportunities.

Wheeler used the ARISS contact with Fincke as a teaching tool for Enloe students.

"[Students] gained a better understanding for what is involved with operating the space station and learned how the space station is making life better for us here on Earth," he said.

"Opportunities like this are real world examples of how inquiry based learning solves problems and stimulates creativity," Wheeler said. Years from now, none of these students or adults will remember what they made on any of their standardized tests, but they will remember the time when they talked with the space station."

Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) is an international organization that includes Japan, Russia, Canada, the United States and several countries in Europe. Since the ARISS hardware was launched aboard space shuttle Atlantis in 2000, it has been regularly used to enable school contacts. The goal of ARISS is to get students interested in mathematics and science by allowing them to talk directly with the crews living and working aboard the International Space Station.

International Education Week is a program developed by the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education. Established in 2000, the program highlights the importance of international partnerships and international education in today's global environment.

For more information on NASA education, visit:

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