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NASA's Launch Services Program Connects With Students Around the World

Students in Argentina prepare for their videoconference with NASA High school students in Argentina video conference with NASA's Launch Services Program at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
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Students in Argentina speak with Project Coordinator Christopher Blair at NASA's Kennedy Space Center LSP Outreach Coordinator Christopher Blair talks to students in Argentina through video conferencing.
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NASA's Digital Learning Network connects students in Argentina with NASA's Kennedy Space Center (From left to right) Christopher Blair, Laura Midulla and Damon Talley speak to students in Argentina and across the country during a live webcast from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
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Students from around the world are learning about NASA’s Launch Services Program (LSP) through video conferences. The LSP Outreach Office recently communicated via video conferencing with two high schools: Fairview High School in Kentucky and the Colegio Río de la Plata Sur of Berazategui in Argentina. This media outlet provided educational support while bringing awareness to the students and educators about the science behind unmanned missions.

These educational video conferences allowed students to interact with and have their questions answered by NASA experts. The LSP Outreach Office provided activities and lesson plans in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields of education to promote NASA’s unmanned missions.

The Colegio Río de la Plata Sur of Berazategui was chosen because its country’s space program, CONAE, is an international partner with NASA. Most recently, CONAE helped develop the Aquarius/SAC-D spacecraft, which monitors the salinity of the Earth’s oceans. The Argentine students reveled in the idea that their country’s space program played a pivotal role in the development and collection of real-time data from the Aquarius satellite.

The responses from the video conference were encouraging. English Head of Studies Lucrecia Prat Gay, from the Colegio Río de la Plata Sur stated, “The fact that the students were going to work with NASA and talk to people from such an important institution made them consider future possibilities that had never surfaced before. After our video-conference, one student was so interested in science that he told me he was going to go to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.”

Fairview High School student Tayler Thompson remarked, "It was interesting to hear about another side of NASA. I just thought NASA was about astronauts and space walks."

An added benefit of video-conferencing is that students can learn about the wide variety of careers available working with NASA’s Launch Services Program. Fairview High School student Sarah Dunn said, "I didn't know that NASA had so many other jobs! I could be a journalist and still work at NASA."

Teachers also benefit from the ability to connect classroom subjects with real-world applications. “It really helped to talk about short-term and long-term goals in the field of science,” said Mrs. Carly Baldwin, the Fairview High School Physics Teacher. “I loved hearing about launch windows and planning for a launch two years in advance.”

Both schools were also very interested to learn more about the upcoming launch of NASA's newest Mars rover, nicknamed Curiosity. Launching Thanksgiving weekend in November, Curiosity will arrive at the planet Mars in August 2012, just as the new school year is starting.

Christopher Blair,
NASA's Launch Services Program