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Audience with an Astronaut!

By Maria Catalina

On Friday, October 4, 30 students from throughout San Diego County kicked off the global celebration of World Space Week in a Google Hangout with former NASA Astronaut Leroy Chiao, PhD. As a Space Foundation Teacher Liaison, I brought team Synergy Moon students from Spaceport Academy to the newly opened San Diego Central Library at the Joan Irwin Jacobs Common, in the Wells Fargo Technology Learning Center, where they joined e3 Civic High students for an Audience with an Astronaut!

Based in Houston, Chiao is the Space Foundation's special advisor-human spaceflight. His Space Shuttle missions include: STS-92 Discovery, Oct. 11-24, 2000; STS-72 Endeavour, Jan. 11-20, 1996; STS-65 Columbia, July 8-23, 1994. In addition, he flew as Flight Engineer 1 aboard Soyuz TMA-5 to the ISS, where he served as commander and NASA science officer for Expedition 10. He lived on the ISS for six and a half months.

"With the infusion of technology into our educational system, the possibilities of providing students with exciting, innovative and creative learning opportunities are limitless," commented Sandra Hodge, Public Relations Officer of Spaceport Academy. She goes on to say that "as businesses, community groups, corporations, and civic leaders join together in the education of our youth, a millennial world can be created."

Innovation is the operative word, we further the concept of participatory education by training teachers to take students on an expeditionary journey, whether virtually or in real-time. An example is the Spaceport Academies at Montgomery and Mar Vista High Schools of the Sweetwater Union High School District that will join in at the Audience with an Astronaut. Students from these schools are participating engineers in our Google Lunar X Prize Team Synergy Moon, the only team that has middle and high school students building hardware to send a rover to the lunar surface!

See you soon, on the Moon!

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