They made a connection! Students at Sunset Hills Elementary School had the opportunity to chat live via HAM radio with astronaut/ flight engineer Akihiko Hoshide, who is a part of Expedition 33 on board the International Space Station (ISS) on September 20th at 10:24 a.m. for approximately six minutes.

“We are thankful to NASA and the Amateur Radio Club for creating this awesome opportunity for our students,” said Tina Ziegler, Principal at Sunset Hills Elementary School. “Not only did the students get a once in a lifetime chance to talk live to the astronauts, they also got terrific instructional activities leading up to and following the event that brought relevance to the many ways science and technology impact our lives. This was something they will never forget.”

Ziegler went through an arduous application process through NASA and received news, in May, that Sunset Hills was selected. Preparation began immediately as students brainstormed question ideas, which were submitted to a team of faculty and staff for review. Volunteers from PAPASYS HAM Club and Mt. Carmel High School’s Amateur Radio Club helped set up a frequency test to make sure a connection could be made with the ISS.

The entire student body (K through 5th grade) attended the live audio chat. Lindsay White, MCHS student and member of the MCHS Amateur Radio Club, acted as the control monitor during the chat. Her role was to guide the 14 selected students to ask questions they had prepared, received approval of by NASA, and practiced since the start of school.

The ARISS (Amateur Radio on the International Space Station) program provides an opportunity for students to learn more about space exploration and about life on board the ISS as well as a hands-on experience with Amateur Radio. With the assistance of Amateur Radio Clubs and the HAM radio operators, more than 500 schools in the world have contacted AIRSS.

It is indeed appropriate that Sunset Hills Elementary School adopted a new slogan this year. They are living up to it by “Shooting for the Stars and Beyond!”