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Cambie students send questions into space

School assemblies have reached new limits as H.J. Cambie Secondary School  students got the chance to connect with the International Space Station yesterday morning.

The Richmond Amateur Radio Club established an audio connection with the International Space Station for a period of seven minutes. Richmond students got the chance to speak with Japanase astronaut, Koichi Wakata.

“We had a contest on our website and students were able to submit their questions…We ended up having about 150 questions and we only needed 20,” said Cambie science teacher Karen Ibbott.

Although a connection was made, the clarity of Wakata’s responses was barely audible.

When asked what may have caused the interference, Richmond Amateur Radio Club director Urey Chan said that the International Space Station orbit level was lower than planned.

To establish the best connection, an orbit of approximately 70 degrees would be optimal, but this morning’s connection was made with the International Space Station orbiting at 48 degrees.

Chan said that the station orbiting at a lower level may cause the connection to be disrupted by other satellites.

Grade 12 student Richard Marohn was looking forward to the event and dressed for the occasion in a blue NASA space uniform.

Morohn had earlier pitched a video he and another student made to the Richmond board of education proposing Cambie host the special event.

“The video talked about how this is going to be a once in a lifetime experience for the students here and gave a brief run down of what we’d actually be doing,” he said.

Ibbott had the initial idea to contact the International Space Station and Richmond school trustees  endorsed it.

“It’s giving students the chance to really connect with learning in a different way,” said board of education chair Donna Sargent.

Cambie teachers are also incorporating space education into a number of different courses, hoping to get students more interested in science and technology.

Home economics classes are adopting recipes used by astronauts. Math and science classes are building robot models while learning about surface area. And  Ibbott is currently germinating tomatoes seeds— brought back to earth from space by Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield—in her science classes.

“In a world of 21st century learning, opportunities such as the Richmond Amateur Radio or the International Space Station program allow us to transform the learning process and engage students beyond the walls of the classroom,” Cambie vice-principal Erica Schmidt said.

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