WARWICK, R.I. – It was the first ever "space chat" between Rhode Island high school students and the International Space Station on Thursday.
Students asked questions like, “How much is the human aging process impacted after a 9 month trip to Mars?”
The students from both Bishop Hendricken High School in Warwick and Bay View Academy in Riverside spoke through amateur radio, or ham radio, with an astronaut as the space station flew over Italy. Last year, kids in grades K-8 got this opportunity. The volunteer who set up this year's chat says this one is a different experience.
Michael Cullen is a parent volunteer and coordinated the chat. Cullen says, “I was looking for higher order questions out of this high school group, and they really delivered.”
Cullen says it's all about keeping students interested in science so they have good career opportunities.
Cullen says, “For the majority of students that are born in Rhode Island, their math and science skills really aren't that strong. They need to be a lot stronger.”
Pulling off the chat meant getting help from people on the ground in Atlanta and Italy.
Bishop Hendricken Freshman Aidan Flanagan says, “It's so cool how all across the world, everyone just comes together just to get us in Rhode Island talking to outer space with the space station.”
The space station moves at 17,500 miles per hour in orbit, so they only had a 10 minute window to ask their questions.
Bay View Academy Senior Emily Marshall says, “It was something that I'll never forget and it was so cool to be able to talk to somebody that was actually in space.”