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Celebrating Canadian Science & Technology with Chris Hadfield (Part II)

John Whitman


** this article follows up on John Whitman's original post. [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"192","attributes":{"title":"whitman_temp","height":"252","width":"300","class":"media-image size-medium wp-image-1106 alignleft media-element file-media-large"}}]]Elementary students were watching images of Chris Hadfield and William Shatner projected onto screens in their Whitby classrooms while I sat in Saint-Hubert, Quebec watching the same image on a much larger screen.  On February 7th, 2013 I, and another 29 very lucky ‘SpaceTweeps’, were invited to the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) headquarters to celebrate the accomplishments of Chris Hadfield aboard the International Space Station (ISS). I teach science because I love science.  Taking part in the #CSATweetup event was a fantastic way to begin this year’s grade six unit on Space.  Students from many grades at E.A. Fairman Public School in Whitby were watching the live web-link of the event. Teachers and students were relaying questions they had to me via Twitter, and I in-turn would respond. The day-long event began with a mission briefing hosted by CSA astronaut Jeremy Hansen who had flown in from Houston, Texas to host the event.  Our small group of space enthusiasts were thrilled to have the opportunity for an up close and personal meeting with a Canadian astronaut and to ask any question we wanted.  From there Jeremy escorted us to the conference room for a live space-to-earth link-up with Commander Hadfield.  The live event began with a discussion between William Shatner and Cmdr. Hadfield about life and work aboard the ISS, followed by several of the CSA Tweetup group members asking their own questions directly to Cmdr. Hadfield. After the link-up event, we attended a series of lectures put on by CSA research personnel.  The group was briefed on a wide array of scientific research including ongoing medical monitoring of astronauts to determine the effects of long duration space flights, and the behaviour of fluids and the growth of crystals in microgravity conditions.  We were also given a full tour of the building including a look at the Canadian mission control centre by the Director of Mission Operations.  Although I wasn’t chosen to ask a question during the link-up event, I was one of six chosen to train on the Canadarm 2 simulator. To have hands-on experience with the same training equipment so many of the astronauts who have worked aboard the ISS have used was a highlight of the day for me. The event was a celebration of Hadfield’s efforts to use of social media, the people who follow and retweet his Twitter posts, the broader media attention it has created, and the increased awareness of Canadian space science among the general public.  The CSA Tweetup event brought together a diverse group – not unlike the country we call home.  From early twenties to late sixties, from engineers and pilots, to a pharmacist and project manager and everything in between.  Many new friends were made, especially given the common passion for space exploration that we all share. No one wanted the day to end and I think most of us would have slept there if they’d have let us. Back in class, my students have seen the pictures I took on my tour, watched several CSA and NASA videos including a recent Google+ live link-up with the ISS crew.  Everyone is looking forward to learning more about what’s beyond our little blue planet.  As a culminating activity for the space unit, and a bridging event for the Flight unit, the students will build and launch solid fuel model rockets.  The launch day has grown into a half-day event and the school community enjoys watching young spirits and dreams soar skyward. This year they will look up and know a Canadian orbits above them.  Having travelled skyward on a real rocket, a Canadian now commands one of humanity’s greatest scientific achievements. Follow the CSA & Chris Hadfield on Twitter: @csa_asc    @Cmdr_Hadfield A great app to find the ISS and track it is ‘The Night Sky’ available in iTunes To view video of the CSA Tweetup event, visit Other CSA videos can be found at CSA Educator resources: ISS Mission-resources for teachers Music teachers may find useful