PESHTIGO, Wis. (WFRV) – Students at Peshtigo Elementary Learning Center had a great opportunity to have an ‘Out of this World’ conversation with NASA Astronaut Mark Vande Hei. “We started having conversations with NASA and getting the ball rolling with our team here, and it all boiled down to today,” said Kate Willett, Principal of Peshtigo Elementary.
Vande Hei has local ties to the area, his cousin Jody Van Vooren is a 4th grade teacher at the school. “My Mark is an Astronaut that is living at the International Space Station for a year,” said Van Vooren. She adds this is his second trip there. “I received an email about a month ago, saying he saved some spots for us to do a live event for the school,” explained Van Vooren.
About a dozen children were able to ask Vande Hei a question, in a conversation streamed live on YouTube. Melanie Bernet, a 5th grader, asked, “Can you feel when you leave Earth’s Atmosphere?” To which Vande Hei responded, “You sure can.”
Bernet says she is interested in a career with NASA. “I kind of want to be in the group that helps guide the Astronauts and help train them,” explained Bernet.
Peyton Knutson, also a 5th grader, asked, “Do you ever get to go outside the Space Station?” Vande Hei replied, “We do go outside the Space Station for flight, but I’m not scheduled for a spacewalk.”
Knutson is also exploring the idea of becoming an Astronaut. “I find it really interesting and I really want to be an Astronaut when I grow up,” said Knutson.
For Amari Reymer, also in the 5th grade, says his passion is to become an Artist. However, he did not pass up the opportunity to ask a question that he has always wondered. “Does anything strange happen in Space?” Vande Rei said, “Amari, by asking that do you mean something that I can’t explain? Everything that looks strange to me has had a scientific explanation.”
For educators having special events like this can hopefully stimulate renewed interest in the Space Program. “I think that is really cool for our students to understand as well, that Space exploration and NASA for instance…there is a lot more to it than just people who are in outer Space,” explained Willett.