West Virginia Schools Connect with NASA Astronaut on Space Station

Expedition 70 NASA astronaut Loral O’Hara waits to have her Russian Sokol suit pressure checked as she and fellow crewmates, Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko and Nikolai Chub, prepare for their Soyuz launch to the International Space Station, Friday, Sept. 15, 2023 in Baikonur, Kazakhstan. The launch will send Expedition 70 NASA astronaut Loral O’Hara and Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko and Nikolai Chub on a mission to the International Space Station. Photo Credit: (NASA/GCTC/Andrey Shelepin)

Students participating in the Plant the Moon Challenge will have an opportunity to connect to an astronaut aboard the International Space Station. The Earth-to-space call will air live 1:05-1:25 p.m. ET., Tuesday, January 9, on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website.

NASA astronaut Loral O’Hara will answer prerecorded questions from students from VirginiaNorth CarolinaSouth CarolinaWest VirginiaFlorida, and Puerto Rico. The event, hosted by the Virginia Space Grant Consortium, will include participants from middle and high schools in all six locations. Students will be given the opportunity to attend space-related presentations, participate in hands-on activities, and attend the event. 

The International Space Station Downlink is an opportunity for students and teachers to learn first-hand about living and working in space, what life is like for an astronaut in microgravity, and how to translate the research happening in space into their everyday lives, PTMC projects, and classrooms.

Five West Virginia high schools and eight middle schools are participating in the NASA Space Grant Enhancement to the Plant the Moon Challenge competition as part of a six Space Grant Consortia partnership project. The partnership is a NASA-funded initiative designed to expand the reach of the challenge to underserved and underrepresented STEM students in the six partnering states that includes the NASA West Virginia Space Grant Consortium based at WVU.  

The NASA Space Grant Regional Expansion Project builds on the Plant the Moon Challenge by providing additional support to educators, free lunar regolith simulant kits, teacher stipends, enhancement activities, special awards, and expanded educator professional development. The project is expected to engage more than 13,000 students in PTMC over the next three years.

The Plant the Moon Challenge is a program of the Institute for Competition Sciences.

Those who missed the Space Station Downlink Event can view a recording of this event at the link below: