Our Georgia 5th and 6th-grade students had the opportunity to learn about the importance of teamwork, persistence, and international collaboration in a Zoom hosted by NASA, Senator Patrick Leahy’s office and Vermont Space Grant. 

Astronaut Zena Cardman is a member of the newest Artemis class which is set to send the first woman to the moon by 2024. While she hasn’t been in space yet, she has been training for three years to prepare for future missions. The NASA administrator spoke highly of Ms. Cardman’s expertise in microorganisms, caves and deep sea; and their importance in future space exploration. She is young enough to not only potentially be on the 2024 mission to the moon, but potentially Mars further in the future. 

Zena Cardman spoke a bit about her education and a lot about the training to be an astronaut. She also spoke about the goal of living on the moon and eventually traveling to Mars. After seeing these slides and hearing more about the Artemis mission, the Zoom  moved to the Q & A portion of the program. Five of our Georgia 6th graders were able to ask their questions directly to Ms Cardman, via Zoom.

Eli Finch asked, “How do you become an astronaut and how do you train for space?”

Ms. Cardman spoke about the importance of following your passions, there are astronauts with lots of different backgrounds and educational experiences but they all have one thing in common: team oriented!

Sophie Nye asked, “What kind of food do you eat in space and do you like it?”

Zena spoke about trying lots of different dehydrated foods like those you might take on long camping trips. Some are not so great, but the lasagna and brownies are her favorite.

Claire Sicotte asked “Can viruses exist in outer space?”

Claire’s question had Ms Cardman answer with “we don’t really have an answer for that yet.” She recognized that a virus can live in human hosts as they travel into space, but part of the exploration of space is to find out what other things are out there including life supporting elements.

Callie Beyor asking Astronaut Carman a question.

Callie Beyor asked, “What is your prediction of how close we are to going into space and to develop something like a Space Hotel for citizens to use?”

Zena Cardman spoke about how there is already space tourism happening now. And how important collaboration between various countries and private companies making investments will be in lowering the cost of space travel for more people. She thinks that space tourism will be well within reach during the lifetime of our 5th and 6th graders. 

Our last student, Jack LaChance, unfortunately didn’t get ask his question of  “What or who inspired you to become an astronaut?” due to running out of time. However he is expecting an email soon with an answer to his question.

Thanks to Vermont Space Grant and Senator Leahy for hosting this event with NASA! A HUGE shout out to Ms. Doreen O’Brien for stepping up and helping coordinate this event for all of our 5th and 6th grade classrooms, our amazing IT and innovation specialists for their technical assistance in ensuring connectivity to all rooms, and our GEMS TV students for helping capture the event. Be sure to check out the next GEMS TV episode for more on this event!

Julie Conrad is currently Principal of Georgia Middle School and is a regular contributor to THE FWSU STORY. You can follow her on Twitter @JulieConradVT

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