The final frontier is finally a tangible reach for Airdrie teenagers
Last week approximately 1,000 students in Airdrie got the chance to “meet” Chris Hadfield, Canada’s superstar astronaut. (See story page 1.)
During a video conference March 11, the astronaut spoke with Bert Church High School students about an experiment Hadfield is leading, analyzing radiation levels on the International Space Station (ISS).
Grade 9 students from the high school are part of 300 classrooms across the country participating in a high school project developed to engage Canadians in an experiment similar to Hadfield’s.
The Airdrie teens got the unique experience to have the event hosted from their school; students from the other 299 classrooms across Canada watched the interaction via a live stream. The project gives a chance to encourage more children to become engaged, and motivated in space exploration.
In an interview on ShawTV, Robert Thirsk, an astronaut formally of Calgary who was at the event, said “we need to get the next generation excited about exploration.”
And what other way to do it than with the social media expert Hadfield who now has just less than 500,000 followers after live-tweeting photos of his view from space last December.
Hadfield, a former Royal Canadian Air Force fighter pilot, and first Canadian to walk in space is now the first Canadian to command the ISS for the second half of his six-month stay in space.
Not just brains with an impressive resume, Hadfield comes across as a down-to-earth astronaut reaching out to students and the general public.
During his discussion with Bert Church High School students from the ISS, he encouraged students to become involved with science.
“When we do go to Mars, hopefully you will be one of the people standing on Mars,” he said to one student who asked a question.
In January, he delighted space nerds and Trekkers when William Shatner, who played the fictional captain onboard he the USS enterprise in the television series, Star Trek struck up a conversation with Hadfield on Twitter when he asked “are you tweeting from space?”
Hadfield responded, “yes standard obit, Captain. And we’re detecting signs of life from the surface.”
The conversation grew to include tweets from Leonard Nimoy, Wil Wheaton and even Buzz Aldrin.
The popularity of space exploration had its heyday when Tang was dubbed “the official drink of the astronauts” and the race to be the first country on the moon was eminent.
Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin are names that will forever be remembered.
In fact, Information from the Canadian space agency said it was watching the race to the moon and seeing Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walk on the surface that encouraged Hadfield to pursue the astronaut’s life.
But now, with more and more flights going into space, the interest in astronauts declined. For example, in the 2011 US budget, the moon return project was grounded.
But the buzz isn’t dead. That was certainly evident March 11 inside the high school.
It’s people like Hadfield who are doing amazing things and sharing it with the public.
It’s the relatable, friendly personality that shows the public another side to them beyond the out-of-reach icon, that will impress upon young people their potential.