BAKERSVILLE, N.C. (WJHL) — 22 students had the chance to speak with an astronaut stationed at the International Space Station on Monday.
Bowman Middle School has been preparing for months for 10 minutes of time with astronaut Steve Bowen. They connected with Bowen through the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS).
As Bowen flew about 250 miles above the school, he called in to answer questions from the students.
“The suspense of waiting, and just static, and when you hear the man’s voice or that person’s voice come over the air, the kids know this is really happening,” said STEM teacher, Dan Hopson. “You are talking to an astronaut as he’s flying overhead.”
Hopson applied for the grant with ARISS. He was able to bring it to another school in the district, Harris Middle School, in October last year.
“We had just come out of COVID and I wanted to do something for the kids that would put the ‘wow’ factor back in school,” said Hopson. “And this is one of the best ways to get kids motivated for their interest in math, science, and technology.”
There was only time for 13 questions to be asked. Students asked questions about the mission and what it’s like to be in space.
“It was amazing,” said eighth grader, Brayden Gillaspie. “I loved every ounce of it.”
“It felt like they were right next to me,” said seventh grader, Anthony Rhinecker.
Bowen connected with the students using solar power, which is a weak power source. This meant there was a chance the connection wouldn’t work, but students were happy it did.
“Oh, it felt amazing, I loved every moment of it,” said seventh grader, Abel Rhor. “We got to talk. We got to practice all week. Everybody knew their part and everything. It was so much fun. I’m glad I got to do it.”
This opportunity has sparked an interest in these young minds.
“Actually after this, I would like to be an astronaut like just to experience space and what it looks like, the galaxies and stuff like that,” said Rhor.
Hopson said he plans to coordinate another session for a new school in the district, Mitchell Miners, when it opens in the fall of 2025. The school will house third through eighth graders.
You can read more about ARISS here.