June 25, 2014 03:38PM
By Eric Vo
WALLINGFORD — At the end of October, students and members of the community will have the opportunity to talk to astronauts on the International Space Station.
The event will take place the week of Oct. 28 at the Parks and Recreation Center, 6 Fairfield Boulevard, said Chris Stone, a fifth grade teacher at Pond Hill School. The actual date will be determined by NASA, but Stone believes it will be Oct. 30.
The Meriden Amateur Radio Club will provide technical support, Stone said. The talk will last 10 minutes because of the strict schedules of the astronauts.
Stone created the Young Astronauts Club of Wallingford in 2000 after he attended a space camp in Alabama. The club provided enrichment programs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
After running the program for a decade, Stone said it stopped for a few years. Last summer, he revived it after receiving NASA grant. The program is now known as the STEM Academy.
“It was very successful. There were a lot of kids in the program and a lot of positive feedback with the parents,” Stone said.
Stone applied for the opportunity to have local students and residents talk to astronauts on the space station.
“I saw this solicitation out from NASA for community groups to arrange school groups to write proposals for the ARISS (Amateur Radio on the International Space Station) program,” he said. “I decided to apply.”
The program is open to the entire country, and is competitive, according to Stone. The Talcott Mountain Science Center was the only other state organization participating, he said.
School Superintendent Salvatore Menzo said he is excited about the opportunity. He was hoping to use the school system’s new video conferencing equipment, but NASA’s guidelines prohibit it.
“We have to follow NASA’s guidelines,” Stone said. “In this case, there’s no video conferencing. There won’t be any live feeds of the astronauts.”
Despite this, Stone is encouraging different organizations in the community to attend the event.