On Friday May 6, 2016, 24 lucky Rhode Island students -- all assembled at All Saints STEAM Academy (AS2A) in Middletown -- and posed their questions to astronaut Jeff Williams (NASA) who is currently aboard the International Space Station. As the space station past overhead, 250 miles up and traveling at 17,500 mph -- they made RI history by engaging Rhode Island's first-ever, space-to-school conversation using a powerful "ham" radio system mounted on the school's roof.
he live space-to-school chat with ISS astronaut Jeff Williams begin at 12:45PM -- following a series of initial, anxious radio calls from 8th grade student "ham operator" Paula Perez -- and ran about nine minutes before the ISS set in the southeastern sky, heading to Brazil.
This special event was viewed by quite an audience. At the school, 160 students, parents, invited guests, and media crowded the multi-purpose room. Another 225 students and guests watched nearby on a 21-foot wide projection screen -- courtesy of newportFILM -- at St Lucy's Church. The livestream showed another 255 viewers. WADK 1540 Newport also broadcast the event audio on The Open Forum show.
Local and regional media coverage was strong. You are invited to skim a summary of TV, print, radio, and social reporting at this special link
Since 2001 international space agencies have partnered with amateur radio organizations to connect schools from around the world with orbiting astronauts via "ham" radio contact.
All Saints STEAM Academy is RI's first STEAM-centric school. We challenged our middle school students to earn a FCC amateur radio license.
Encouraged by the six of our students passing the FCC exam, we took the next step: shaping a compelling educational proposal.
Many volunteers from the Aquidneck Island ham radio community are helping.
According to the recent Brookings report, Rhode Island' needs a much larger STEAM-skilled talent pool in order to attract and grow 21st Century advanced industries.
AS2A emphasizes the traditional fundamentals of reading, writing, and numeracy. The magic comes when hands-on, project-based activities ignite interest and enthusiasm in young minds.