Combining instruction in science and math with lessons in Spanish, students from a rural Kentucky middle school participated Thursday in a bilingual online chat with Herman Posada, a NASA research pilot who flies unmanned aerial vehicles.
"A chat like this provides our students with a real and meaningful second language, math and science experience," said Zenaida Smith, the Spanish teacher at Raceland Worthington High School in Raceland, KY.
More than 50 of her students stayed after school to participate in the online discussion.
"It was really fun. They loved it. It was a real learning experience for all of us," Smith said.
Questions were submitted to Posada in either English or Spanish, and then answered with the help of NASA chat moderators in both languages. Chat guests from around the world submitted more than 200 questions during the 90-minute online event.
"This was a great opportunity for our kids to see there is a great big world out there and how, if the students can work hard, they can be a part of it," Smith said.
During the chat Posada described his role in remotely flying NASA's Ikhana, an unmanned Predator B aircraft modified for non-military missions, and the Global Hawk, which is used mostly for gathering Earth-sciences related data.
"We can fly anywhere in the world; I can be in California and the plane can be thousands of miles away," Posada said in response to a question. "We are doing Earth science missions such as studying hurricanes and wildfires. An unmanned aircraft can often go to dangerous places where manned aircraft can't. We've also used the Ikhana to test out new flight technologies that could be used on future aircraft."
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NASA Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate