Black Mountain team linked to astronauts

The NASA Explorer School team from Black Mountain Elementary School were linked to the astronauts in space during a summer program.

The six members of the Black Mountain staff attended sessions at Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base in California that ended July 20.

"We asked the astronauts if they could see star constellations from the International Space Station," Scott Rhoades, principal and team member, said.

"Yes, was the answer.

They study the stars from the space station because they are so visible."

Black Mountain was one of 50 schools selected for participation from 430 applicants.

Team leader Danyl Pierson had previously attended a space camp program for teachers that included training by NASA.

Applications were limited to schools where a teacher had attended a space camp.

"We feel fortunate to be part of the program," Rhoades said.

"Students throughout our school will have better math and science programs because we were selected."

He said families would get involved through the school astronomy and science clubs.

Evening sessions will include the parents.

Equipment provided for the program will allow students to see pictures taken from space from areas around the world.

"The Earthcam can take pictures of the Grand Canyon from space or of an active volcano somewhere else," Rhoades said.

"Our students could view a live volcano while studying volcanoes in science class."

Other members of the team are Patti Cummins, Lisa McClure and Teri Sietsema.

The team will work with students and staff to integrate the science, math and technology opportunities into the classroom work.

Rhoades said the NASA program is designed to identify students interested in science and math early so their studies can prepare them for careers in fields that lead to work with NASA.

NASA staff will visit the school and bring programs during the year.

Black Mountain is partner with five other schools with videoconference equipment that will allow classes to share information and resources.

NASA resources will also enhance programs in the classroom.

The grant includes $10,000 for the first year and runs for three years, Rhoades said.

Microscopes, computer software and other science equipment may be purchased.