March 17: Goodwood Primary School in Adelaide, South Australia, Australia hosted an ARISS radio contact for students with Shannon Walker who answered 15 of their questions. The audience of 25 followed Adelaide Covid guidelines. Over 184 people watched the livestream and 2,352 more viewed it a few days later. Channel 7 Adelaide News was on the scene to interview teachers, parents, and students for a story. One young girl (shown in the screenshot below) told the reporter, “This makes me want to learn more about astronauts and science and space stuff.” The story quoted a thrilled parent stating that the contact really brought science home in a practical sense. Teachers made the ARISS contact a focus of key themes: space science and technology—telecommunication equipment on the ISS including ham radio, human habitation in space, and earth and space science including modeling Earth’s solar system and studying oral cultural records, petroglyphs, paintings and stone arrangements of the country’s aboriginal people’s understanding of the night sky and its use for timekeeping.
March 22: Students at Oakwood School in Morgan Hill, CA joined via Zoom in an ARISS contact with Shannon Walker; she answered 23 of their questions. The event was livestreamed; 500 students and teachers watched and within 3 days, over 1,000 more viewed it. The URL is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vg8ni7Gq6Z0. The school’s STEM curriculum boasts college prep courses for middle and high school students and features robotics and astronomy as extracurricular STEM activities. During the past year, in preparation for the ARISS contact, the school instituted a Year in Space program for all grades. This benefited from volunteers in the space industry and in amateur radio who provided activities in the fields of radio astronomy, amateur radio, computer science, engineering, and robotics.
March 20: The Savannah River Academy in Grovetown, GA was selected to host an ARISS contact in fall 2021. Teachers and students are engaged in STEM activities leading up to the event. The school invited the Amateur Radio Club of Columbia County to plan nine student sessions to introduce them to ham radio and discuss space subjects and how radio and space technology improve our lives. At the first session, students tapped out their names on Morse code keys and made wristlets that spelled their initials in Morse code (school colors—orange for dits, blue for dahs, white in between letters). Next week club members will bring a ham radio station for students to experiment with and learn about radio waves. Next, students will build their radio payload for a weather balloon. ARISS-US Education Committee member Martha Muir helped the school recently to obtain a grant for some of the student materials.
March 20: Educators worldwide participated in the 1st Annual Equinox Balloon Launch using pico transmitters—small, very light-weight radio circuits designed for balloons. The event was led by the founder of the non-profit group SILAS Education (www.silaseducation.org), ARISS Education Committee member Joanne Michael, the CEO of Magnitude.io (another ISS National Lab SSE program like ARISS), and a NASA retired engineer. The balloons sail around the world on the jet stream, transmitting their coordinates via APRS (amateur radio Automatic Packet Reporting System) transmitters and WSPR (Weak Signal Propagation Reporting) transmitters. Michael posted details on the ARISS web site for educators to learn how to fill balloons, the mechanics to predict and track transmitters after launch, and ways to use balloons to stimulate student interest in STEAM. In a Zoom conference for educators, Michael enthusiastically stated, “Teachers love that the launch pulls in so many different disciplines.” SILAS Education’s leader reported, “There’s at least one kid attached to every launch involved in the journey.” 17 formal and informal educators from five countries—the US, Argentina, Nigeria, Thailand, and Australia—launched balloons at different times of the week depending on weather. TV stations KNDO and KNDU in Yakima and Richmond, WA covered the launch in their online news (also picked up by Fox News/Spokane) with accompanying video; see News | nbcrightnow.com.
March 22: The ARISS contact for the School of Information Technology & Mathematical Sciences in Mawson Lakes, Australia was postponed to April after ISS (false) alarm bells rang.
March 28 Republic of Tatarstan students, Russia, ARISS contact, ARISS-Russia team
March 29 International Aerospace School, Ufa Russia, ARISS contact, ARISS-Russia team
March 30 Lipetsk students, Russia, ARISS contact, ARISS-Russia team
March 31 Amur State University, Blagoveshchensk Russia, ARISS contact, ARISS-Russia team