Seventh-graders ‘Rendezvous With a Comet'

Mar 25, 2014
Students carry out their duties at mission control and communicating with their counterparts currently aboard the International Space Station. They, front to back, Navigational Engineer, Isaiah Millay, Medical Engineers, Wen Fei Zhu and Jeanna Fagundo, Weather Meteorologist, Derek O'Farrell, Aeronautical Engineer, Amanda Chen.

Thomaston — Thomaston Grammar School seventh-graders visited the Challenger Learning Center in Bangor to complete the mission Rendezvous With a Comet Feb. 26.

Students had just completed a unit about space, which prepared them well for their mission. They were split into two groups, ground control and astronauts on the International Space Station. Carrying out the duties of the role each had been assigned, they worked together to intercept a nearby comet, while at the same time solved any issues that presented themselves.

At one point, astronauts on the ISS were forced to lie on the floor while engineers at ground control solved the problem of dangerously low oxygen levels on board. Halfway through the mission, they traded places, so they all could experience the importance of each other’s roles. This simulation was informative, enjoyable, and an excellent culminating activity for their space unit.

The following week, a Skype session was set up with NASA. This was the third year in a row that seventh-graders at Thomaston Grammar School were given the opportunity to talk face-to-face with Maine Astronaut Chris Cassidy. Students prepared a list of questions they most wanted answered and Cassidy also added many stories about unusual events that took place during Mission 35 aboard the space station last year. Skyping Cassidy is certainly an “over the top” experience for these students that they will not soon forget.

Last year’s group sent Cassidy a TGS T-shirt with a class picture and all their signatures. Of course, they secretly hoped it would blast into space with him and spend time at the ISS, but it was still a surprise when the school principal received a video message from space showing Cassidy with the thank-you card they sent floating weightless in space. They also learned the T-shirt accompanied him as well and will be returned to their school to be showcased in the lobby.

We can’t thank Astronaut Cassidy enough for taking the time to educate our students about the space program and plant the seed that might one day encourage them to follow in his footsteps, according to a news release from TGS.


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