Monday, May 4, 2009

NASA Connects Atlanta Students to Astronauts on Space Station

/PRNewswire / -- Students from the Ronald E. McNair Discovery Learning Academy in Atlanta will participate in an out-of-this-world learning experience on Tuesday, May 5, when they receive a call from astronauts aboard the International Space Station. The downlink will air live worldwide on NASA Television and also be available on NASA's Web site. This is the second event of its kind to be held in the state of Georgia.

A live in-flight education downlink with the crew will take place between 11:15 a.m. and 11:35 a.m. EDT at the Fernbank Science Center in DeKalb County. The 20-minute question-and-answer event will feature astronauts Mike Barratt and Koichi Wakata, who are flight engineers aboard the Expedition 19 mission to the station.

Students and teachers are preparing for the downlink by visiting the NASA Web site to learn about the station, crew members, mission objectives and science experiments. Following the event, students will engage in hands-on activities, such as a robotic space mission challenge and rocket building.

NASA's education downlinks support the agency's efforts to encourage students to study and pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM. These events, which NASA's Teaching from Space Office facilitate, use the unique experience of human spaceflight to promote and enhance STEM education.

Fernbank Science Center is part of NASA's Science, Engineering, Mathematics and Aerospace Academy program known as SEMAA. SEMAA is a national, innovative project designed to increase participation and retention of historically underserved and underrepresented kindergarten through 12th grade youth in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

"We're excited about this extraordinary learning experience to inspire SEMAA students' interest in STEM careers," said Jo Ann Charleston, chief of the Educational Programs Office at NASA's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland. "Stimulating interest in these disciplines helps NASA develop the next generation of scientists and engineers who will take us back to the moon, on to Mars and beyond."

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