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NASA comes to Conyers Middle
CMS students had the opportunity to question astronauts Tracy Caldwell Dyson, Doug Wheelock and Shannon Walker from the 24th crew in a live downlink from the ISS1 on Wednesday. - photo by Jessica Smith
On Wednesday, Conyers Middle School hosted VIP guests from far, far away - astronauts Tracy Caldwell Dyson, Doug Wheelock and Shannon Walker from the 24th Crew fielded questions during a live downlink from the International Space Station.

Afterwards, NASA's Dr. Jan Corbin was on hand at CMS for additional inquiries here on Earth. "It's a big deal, and they should be very proud that they have it[NASA's Explorer Schools Program]...only 10-15 schools are chosen nationally per year," she said. As a software engineer at the Kennedy Space Center, Corbin has been involved in the design and construction of the International Space Station since 1996. NASA's Teaching From Space project capitalizes on the human spaceflight environment to provide a stimulating learning experience for students in math, science and technology.

Throughout the last year, CMS held events such as a NASA career day and a girls in engineering day and writing contest culminating in a spacesuit fashion show and essay that determined who would get to pose questions directly to the astronauts. Seventh grader Rina Lanuza was one of the students selected. She asked about the weight of their spacesuits and learned though they weigh 300 pounds on Earth, the suits are weightless in space. Lanuza said she was surprised they can receive packages from their family while in space.

CMS seventh grader Brittany Fearon said she was amazed to learn "the shuttle goes so fast - 17,000 miles per an hour, and it only takes eight minutes to get there." The audience was also informed of the medical experiments and scientific research aboard the ISS as the astronauts discussion were broadcast from a large screen onstage.

During the 20 minute broadcast, CMS's auditorium was standing room only. In attendance at the Q & A session were also parents, teachers, RCPS staff, school board members Wales Barksdale and Jean Yontz, County Commissioner JaNice Van Ness and even the CMS Bulldog mascot.

RCPS Superintendent Dr. Samuel King said he hopes by capturing their imagination, students will realize how working hard and excelling in math, science and technology could result in exciting and inspiring careers down the road.