Valley Stream South High students launched their questions from Earth and heard the answers from astronauts on the International Space Station.
Last month, Valley Stream South High School teamed up with Amateur Radio on the space station, NASA, and the Long Island Mobile Amateur Radio Club for a live conversation between its students and astronaut Andreas Mogensen, who is currently aboard the space station.
This rare opportunity was awarded to 12 students, who won the “Ask an Astronaut a Question” contest held last spring, allowing them the chance to directly engage and pose questions to Mogensen, gaining insights into life beyond our planet.
“The stories of astronauts like Andreas Mogensen, and the images of distant planets inspire us all to dream big and aim for the stars more motivating the next generation of scientists, engineers, and explorers,” Principal Matthew Swinson said opening the event. “How about environmental awareness? Studying space helps us understand Earth’s delicate ecosystem, highlighting the need to bring nations together for a common purpose.”
The contest winners were Meerab Suhail, 12th grade, Ethan Fazal, 12th grade, Dori Chau, 12th grade, Alexa Joy Kosinski, 10th grade, Bethany Kosinski, 12th grade, Kevin Tritschler, 11th grade, Samona Zafar, 12th grade, Noel Corrao, 12th grade, Juan Perez Marte, 8th grade, Andy Huang, 11th grade, Samira Comb, 11th grade and Arielle Ismael, 8th grade.
The high school incorporated an Earth Science ARISS Lesson Plan diving into astronomy, rocket physics, satellite studies, and the use of amateur radio for ISS communication.
The school’s Falcon Report Club joined forces with the Long Island Mobile Amateur Radio Club to prepare for the event.
As students anticipated the connection with Mogensen aboard the ISS, the faculty took a moment to express their gratitude to the Science Honor Society for transforming this vision into a reality.
In New Hampshire, Fred Kemmerer, the director of the New England division of the American Radio Relay League and a mentor for Amateur Radio on the International Space Station, bridged the communication between the students and Mogensen.
Once the connection was established, students sent their questions to space. The first question, asked by Suhail, was most likely the question on everyone’s mind.
“What influenced you to become an astronaut,” Suhail asked.
“My interest goes back to when I was in fourth or fifth grade and first learned about in particular, the Apollo missions to the moon, I thought they were incredibly fascinating,” Mogensen said. “The sense of exploration that they encompass was amazing to me. And even to this day, I still think the Apollo missions are some of the most incredible achievements of humans and that’s what influenced me to become an astronaut.”
Before the connection was lost, students were able to ask Mogensen 10 questions.
The experience of asking questions directly to an astronaut in space is something that will be memorable for not only the participants but also every student in attendance.
“We were ecstatic that the Valley Stream school district was allowed to speak with Commander Andreas Mogensen,” advisor of the high school’s Science Honor Society, Elaina Garces said. “This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”