STEM Gathering STEAM - NASA’s Downlinks with the ISS
By giving our students (K-12) the opportunity to video record any questions they would like to ask the astronauts who are actively serving on the ISS (International Space Station), and have those questions answered in real time, it provides students with unprecedented access to our astronauts. It gives students a better understanding of what it is really like to live in Space with regard to the unique experiences that cannot be replicated on Earth, such as the advantages, limitations and (sometimes humorous) inconveniences arising from living in a microgravity environment. It demonstrates to students, the sacrifices that need to be made when leaving their home planet Earth and the familiarity of Nature behind them, such as a lack of familiar sensory experiences when there is no breeze, a lack of tactile contact with Earth’s species of animals, little or no contact with plants, etc. to live “Beyond Earth’s Borders.”
Being granted the privilege of collaborating with NASA via one of the International Space Station downlinks allows us to formerly “launch” (pun intended) an ongoing global initiative whereby K-12 students can share their passion for interstellar travel and interplanetary colonization. These K-12 students can also mentored by higher education students and faculty who share their interest in Space. A dialogue to determine their interest in participating in NASA’s downlink program is initiated online through various social media sites. Our efforts garnered positive responses from K-12 schools, colleges, universities, PTOs, community organizations, non-profits, science centers, planetariums, etc. to participate in this exceptional educational opportunity. Elementary schools and middle schools who serve under-represented populations of children or that are underfunded also responded in the affirmative to participate in a real-time interaction with the astronauts serving on the ISS.