Above: NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren uses a HAM radio to speak with operators down on Earth during Expedition 45. The International Space Station is equipped with amateur radio equipment, allowing astronauts to share the excitement of space exploration and to inspire and ignite interest among students and others on the ground. Right: Expedition 56 flight engineer Ricky Arnold works with a student-designed experiment using Nanoracks commercial science hardware in July 2018. The study is researching the impacts of microgravity on tissue regeneration, concrete properties, antibiotics, and the growth of plants, fungi, and bacteria. The research introduces students to the principles of space science, possibly leading to
careers as scientists.
it a community-wide event,” she said. “So, it is not just the students who get to sit in the auditorium for 20 minutes while they are chatting with the astronauts. It really becomes a community event where the entire district or community gets behind it and participates in STEM activities leading up to or even after sending up questions to the astronauts. It goes far beyond those 20 minutes for those students in the auditorium. It has a very broad reach.” Kamas explains that schools interested in participating in a downlink must develop an education plan to maximize STEM content, a technology plan to make the event happen seamlessly, and a community outreach plan to “engage VIPs, legislators,
STEM professionals, and other educational organizations in the community.” Even more intrepid students can have oneon-one audio conversations with space station astronauts by participating in the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) program. This opportunity is made possible by a consortium of national amateur radio organizations in the participating space station countries. Kamas’ office also helps spur student STEM education through involvement in space station research. “That means everything from curriculum support materials that teachers can use in the classroom to challenges for students where they tackle real-world problems and help propose and design solutions
to flying payloads.” Kamas adds that working with Nanoracks through their research hardware and facilities in the ISS U.S. National Lab, they are also helping college students design experiments for the near zero-gravity environment. She said, “We are requiring those higher education students to engage K-12 students in citizen science related to their experiment. There is no better way to get students involved than to have them do hands-on work side-by-side with those researchers. An example would be having the K-12 students doing ground research that would provide the space researcher with parallel data, or even having the students run analysis on the data, providing useful content back to the researchers.”