- Letters to Editor
BY: ZEYNAB DAY
Area middle school students had a chance to chat with an astronaut on the International Space station Friday via live video uplink from the Hummel Planetarium.
The project, a collaboration between NASA, KET, and EKU’s STEM-H department is an effort to spark interest in academic areas rooted in mathematics and science.
The video portion of the event was broadcasted live on KET. A selected group of gifted and talented students from 23 area middle school asked astronaut Dr. Tom Mashburn a series of question.
Dr. Jaleh Rezaie, executive director of the STEM-H institute, said the project enabled them to fulfill three main goals, “to support and expand partnerships between the universities and K-20 schools and communities, advance the public understanding of the needs and opportunities in STEM-H disciplines (science, technology, engineering, mathematics and health), and increase learning opportunities and levels of achievement for K-12 students.”
“We focused on the middle school students since research has shown that this age group is the most vulnerable. This is the time they decide about their education interests. Often it is the time they lose interest in math and science. Most important aspect of Friday’s event was the opportunity to inspire and excite the students and teachers about mathematics, science and technology,” said Dr. Rezaie.
More than 160 students took part in the all-day event, which also included projects designed by NASA for the students and a competition prior to the live uplink.
Dr. Rezaie said over 70 faculty, staff and students volunteered to help with the event.
The questions asked during the live video uplink were determined though an essay contest which was judged through Eastern’s Department of Curriculum and Instruction.
Ethan Warren, 12, form Bell County’s Yellow Creek School Center and his partner designed a solar oven for their project.
Warren was one of the students selected to ask a question during the live uplink. Although he and a partner did not get a chance to speak live with Dr. Mashburn they did have a chance to ask their question during the question and answer session after.
They asked, “What has been your greatest accomplishment while on the ISS.”
When asked about his experience Warren said the experience helped him gain confidence to pursue any dream in the future.
“If you try hard you can get accepted into some pretty cool programs and do anything you want to do,” said Ethan.
KET provided technical support to help facilitate the downlink, and according to Dr. Rezaie, will be televising a 30 minute special about the event at a later date.
Shae Hopkins, executive director of KET said, “Space exploration continues to inspire young minds and kindle an interest in science and technology. This will be an incredible opportunity for Kentucky students to learn directly from those astronauts conducting the latest pioneering studies.”
NASA’s Aerospace Education Services Project selected EKU’s Department of Curriculum and Instruction to help cultivate the STEM-H disciplines by providing them access to NASA resources.
The STEM-H department has multiple events this spring semester, including; preparing and facilitating the 2013 Annual Conference of the Kentucky Girls Collaborative Project, preparing for STEM-H summer camps, and involvement with the 2013 Kentucky Science Fair at Eastern on March 20 and 30.
For more information about the STEM-H program at EKU including how to volunteer for events visit; http://www.eku.edu/news/stem-h-institute-established-focus-critical-fields-study.