March 11: Students at Avoca State School in Bundaberg, QLD, Australia engaged in an ARISS contact with Mike Hopkins at the ham radio station on the ISS. The Bundaberg Amateur Radio Club (BARC) had assembled a ham station at the school and students, adhering to Queensland Covid guidelines, got to see firsthand how radio contacts work. Hopkins answered 18 questions and 459 parents and visitors were allowed to attend. The school Facebook page posted the video and got 913 viewers. Media coverage of the contact was tremendous:  two TV stations’ morning and “drive PM show” featured the ARISS contact and interviews with the school principal.  Three radio stations aired different audio interviews and a Facebook video garnering multiple play during morning news shows. A BARC member told a reporter, “This was one of the most exciting projects I’ve ever been involved in. The teachers and principal were united in their work and students displayed euphoria right after the contact was completed.” A regional online news outlet posted live interviews of students and a story on the ARISS contact. Australia Broadcast Corporation Facebook video is at:

The school serves three nearby cities and surrounding rural areas. Prior to this ARISS contact, students’ science curriculum contained a course of study on rocket propulsion. Students built and launched model rockets using a pneumatic energy source. Prior to Covid the school partnered with BARC and members invited youth to participate in a high-altitude balloon launch carrying an amateur radio repeater. 

March 15: The spring 2021 quarterly journal of the National Earth Science Teacher Association ran a peer-reviewed article in its “Today’s Technology” column. It covered a 2019 ARISS school contact with the Vermont Avenue Elementary School in Los Angeles, CA sponsored by the USC Young Scientists Program. The article by Rita Barakat (USC Neuroscience Graduate Program-Joint Educational Project Young Scientists Program) and Dieuwertje Kast (USC Rossier School of Education-Joint Educational Project Young Scientists Program) leads readers through the myriad tasks of hosting a contact, such as the proposal process, compiling a technical team of area ham operators, creating special curriculum providing a foundation for an ARISS contact, and so on. Photos portrayed many activities students engaged in preparing for the contact. A chart depicted how curricula aligned with Next Generation Science Standards. The article quoted teachers and students. Immediately after the contact a fourth grade teacher commented that “…one of my students turned around, looked at me and said, ‘We really talked to a real astronaut! Wow!’ The look on his face: absolutely priceless.” Another student declared she was “…inspired to learn more about space and astronauts…” as a result of the contact experience.

March 14:  A panel of educators speaking on “Makers, Youth and Ham Radio” at the QSO Today Virtual Ham Expo included ARISS-US Education Committee member Melissa Pore. Panelists discussed two ideas. First, how ham radio can play an important part in K-12 education and beyond. Second, how the “Maker spirit in ham radio” is a combination that enables hands-on activities and attaining practical skills in electronics, mechanics, optics, and other high-tech fields. Pore focused on ARISS education and radio contacts. A panelist affirmed that ham radio is a lifetime public service, educational and scientific hobby, and an excellent career- and networking-booster. The panel session was to last one hour but due to the energy of the 110 attendees, was extended 15 minutes.  The presentation is available online for a few weeks for Expo registrants.

March 11: The Girl Scouts of Citrus in conjunction with SpaceKids Global submitted an ARISS Education Proposal that was chosen for hosting an upcoming ARISS contact. The mission of SpaceKids Global, a non-profit, is to inspire elementary students in STEAM education in order to empower young girls. As part of hands-on preparations for the ARISS contact, Girl Scouts of Citrus helped create a project called Making Space for Girls Challenge Program that was carried out in conjunction with the SpaceKids Global group and ProXops, a high-tech engineering and science support company with ties to the ISS National Lab. Last fall, Girl Scouts around the World engaged in this Challenge by submitting an essay, a mission patch, or an experiment idea. Selected were 21 finalists and their work will be flown in August to the ISS in a Faraday box provided by ProXops.

March 20: ARISS-US Education Committee member Joanne Michael designed the International Simultaneous Equinox Launch for balloons with pico-radio transmitters. Participants signed up from East Coast to the West Coast, Texas, Brazil, and India. More details will be in next week’s report.

March 17: Goodwood Primary School in Adelaide, South Australia, AU, had an ARISS contact, and more details will be known next week.

March 3:  ARISS-US Education Committee member Melissa Pore was part of a panel on a Women in Aviation discussion hosted by the College Park (MD) Aviation Museum.  She described how she ties together her interest in aviation and her passion for ARISS activities in her lessons for her high school engineering students and for her school’s ham radio club. An audience of 40 watched the panel discussion.

Upcoming Events

Mar 22 Oakwood School, Morgan Hill CA, school contact, ARISS-US team

Mar 24 School of Info. Tech. & Math. Sciences, Mawson Lakes AU, school contact, ARISS-Japan team