From space to Charles Co.: Students speak to astronauts

LA PLATA, Md. – If you had the opportunity to talk to astronauts in space, what would you ask them?

Some students in the Charles County school district found out Tuesday.

Twenty students, from elementary, middle and high schools in the county, were chosen to participate in NASA’s Expedition 37/38, a program that connects students and astronauts through a live downlink from the International Space Station.

For 20 minutes, one-by-one at La Plata High School, the school kids got to approach the microphone, asking their question of Mike Hopkins and Rick Mastracchio.

The pair of astronauts, who will be in space for six months, could be seen bouncing up and down and tossing the microphone back and forth, on two large screens.

“Could you keep a living organism like a fish in space,” asked Nina Brown, a second-grader from William B. Wade Elementary.


Victoria Gordon, a third-grade student at Indian Head Elementary, asks her question of astronauts Rick Mastracchio and Mike Hopkins, who are aboard the International Space Station. (WTOP/Darci Marchese)

“How does it feel to walk on Earth when you come back from no gravity,” asked Jolie Lombardi, a second-grader from Higdon Elementary.

Other students wondered what type of experiments the astronauts are doing in space, what types of medical testing they go through before they blast off and what types of challenges they face in space.

Monique Wilson, director of the Science Center at St. Charles High School, was proud of the way her students conducted themselves in front of the astronauts but it doesn’t mean some of them weren’t nervous.

“I was very nervous to be speaking with real astronauts but it’s just like speaking to regular people,” says fifth-grader Branden Hicks, who attends Berry Elementary School. He described the event as a “real neat experience” especially because he wants to be an astronaut when he grows up.

Wilson says the experience was two years in the making.

CCPS planned to tape the program and said it would provide a broadcast on later Tuesday afternoon.

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