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Last updated on April 19, 2014 at 8:41 EDT

Orbiting Astronauts To Call North Carolina Students

April 12, 2010

Astronauts orbiting 220 miles above Earth will speak with students in Gibsonville, N.C., on Wednesday, April 14. The call with the students and space shuttle Commander Alan Poindexter and Mission Specialists Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger, Stephanie Wilson and Clay Anderson will take place at 1:06 p.m. EDT at Eastern Guilford High School in Gibsonville.

Eastern Guilford High School is hosting students from Eastern Guilford Middle School, Gibsonville Elementary, McLeansville Elementary, Rankin Elementary and Sedalia Elementary for the downlink. The school also will broadcast the event to the entire Guilford County Schools district, which serves more than 71,000 students.

The astronauts launched Monday, April 5, aboard space shuttle Discovery from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. During the 13-day mission to the International Space Station, the crew will deliver science experiments and supplies; take three spacewalks to switch out a gyroscope on the station’s truss, or backbone; install a spare ammonia storage tank and return a used one; and retrieve a Japanese experiment from the station’s exterior.

Metcalf-Lindenburger is one of three teachers selected to fly as shuttle mission specialists in the 2004 Educator Astronaut Class. She operates the shuttle’s robotic arm. Without robotics, major accomplishments like building the station, repairing satellites in space and exploring other worlds would not be possible.

Students have been preparing for the downlink by conducting NASA engineering design challenges and implementing agency robotics resources and activities into K-12 classrooms. A science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, club was organized to increase participation and interest, particularly by female students.

The school’s guidance department also is collaborating with local universities to help students investigate and explore STEM opportunities beyond graduation. During follow up in-district workshops in April and May, a NASA Aerospace Education Services Program specialist will demonstrate how to access and use NASA resources in K-12 curricula.

Eastern Guilford High School employee Michael Woods, a former Aerospace Education Services Project specialist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., and the agency’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., is leading the downlink effort. In December 2009, NASA awarded Guilford County Schools a two-year grant of nearly $1 million to help middle and high school teachers develop science lessons using the space agency’s content.

The event is part of a series with educational organizations in the U.S. and abroad to improve teaching and learning in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The in-orbit call is part of Teaching From Space, a NASA project that uses the unique environment of human spaceflight to promote learning opportunities and build partnerships with the kindergarten through 12th grade education community.

NASA Television will air video of the astronauts during the downlink. For NASA TV downlink, schedule and streaming video information, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/ntv

For information about NASA and robotics, including messages from Metcalf-Lindenburger for teachers and students, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/education/robotics

For information about NASA’s education programs, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/education

For information about the space shuttle and its crew, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/shuttle