ISS Downlink: Making Contact

On May, 23, 2012 Seaholm will have the opportunity of hosting a once-in-a-lifetime experience for students throughout the Birmingham School District.

600 students will be granted the opportunity to take part in a downlink with the International Space Station and 20 students in grades 3-12 will be granted the opportunity to directly ask flight engineer, Joe Acaba, questions live on the International Space Station.

According to Jennifer Gottlieb, 8-12 Science Coordinator, and the main person responsible for this opportunity, the experience will be similar to a 20 minute Skype session with the International Space Station.

On the day of the event the 20 students whose questions are chosen will go down to the auditorium with their entire class. Also, students are able to submit t-shirts designs. The top four designs will be worn by everyone at the downlink. The t-shirt design contest winners will also be able to attend the downlink with the rest of their class. These students will comprise the people physically attending the downlink and will represent all schools throughout the district and involve students from grades 3-12.

Birmingham Public School District was one of six organizations across the nation to earn this opportunity. Gottlieb is especially excited for the downlink because she was so happy last year when she worked in the Troy School District and they had the same opportunity last year.

“I’m just looking forward to seeing the expressions on the kid’s faces that moment when they connect to the International Space Station,” Gottlieb said.

All students in the district grades 3-12 will have a chance to submit potential questions to be asked during the downlink. The 20 students who are chosen will be able to bring their entire class to the auditorium for the downlink.

Some students, like sophomore Eliana Barwinski, are looking forward to the opportunity to propose a possible question.

“It’s a great opportunity and I really hope I get to ask a question,” Barwinski said.

As for the students who will not be able to physically attend the downlink, Gottlieb says that all students will be involved as much as possible.

“Right now the technology department is trying to make it so all the students in the district can watch the downlink,” Gottlieb said.

Seaholm is planning to make the downlink say a special day for students throughout the school and is in the process of planning different space and science related events that will occur that day.

“We just found out we were chosen and now there is a big rush to plan the event and activities that we will have available that day,” principle Dee Lancaster said.

Teachers around the district were also given the option of attending an orientation session on April 16th to find out more about the International Space Station and how their class can get involved.

Gottlieb is also hoping that this opportunity will give kids interested in science and math a chance to consider careers in the field of space. There will also be an event open to the public on May 23rd in which representatives from STEM companies, professions in math and science, will come in and speak about their work and interests.

“I’m hoping these events will begin to spur interest in NASA or space related programs,” said Gottlieb.

Sophomore Labina Patrovska looks forward to the opportunity to meet professionals in the STEM field in hopes that it will give here insight into possible future career choices.

“I think it will be cool and helpful to meet people in the science and math fields because I’m interested in going into a career in science,” said Petrovska.

Gottlieb encourages everyone in the district to take advantage of this opportunity and attend the STEM event after school the day of the downlink.

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