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Students from Legacy Christian Academy win NASA contest

Posted: April 29, 2013 10:21 p.m.
Updated: April 29, 2013 10:21 p.m.

"How does it feel to look at Earth from space?"

That’s the first question Legacy Christian Academy fifth grader Miranda Duffy posed to Don Pettit, a NASA astronaut who has logged 370 days in space over three flights.

The chemical engineer, who "visited" the school via a live video chat on Thursday, April 25, referred to a giant beach-ball version of the planet in his reply, then transitioned to explain how geography can be studied from space.

Over the course of the 40-minute discussion, which also included students from two other schools — Dr. Albert Einstein Academy in Elizabeth, New Jersey and Amos Hyatt Middle School in Des Moines, Iowa — students asked questions about what Pettit learned from investigating the principles of physical science in microgravity.

Alex Kreitzman wanted to know, "What does it feel like to float in space?" while Valentina Hildago asked about the temperature on the International Space Station. Joseph Aceves requested details on how Pettit "controlled his body" while in space and Logan Domato inquired if the astronaut had ever been to the Moon. All told, 56 Legacy fifth graders participated in the engaging event.

The excitement came thanks to two enterprising Legacy students, Miranda Duffy and Jennifer Hadawi, who participated in the "NASA Explorer Schools 2012-13 Student Recognition Challenge: Inspire Science" competition. Their investigative question was: "How long does it take for a marble to go to the bottom of a cup in viscous cornstarch?"

After much trial and error, the team created a YouTube video demonstrating their experiment. In the end, 12 winning team videos were selected from schools across the nation.

Legacy was the only school chosen from California.

Legacy science teacher Kelly Duffy was notified in mid April via e-mail that her students had been selected.

The letter, in part, read, "(Your students’) video was entertaining and informative. It demonstrated their knowledge and interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. These students are the brightest and the best of our NASA Explorer Schools and we appreciate their effort to enter the student recognition challenge: Inspired Science."

Pettit, who Duffy described as "fantastic and funny," is known for his "Science of the Sphere" videos, which he recorded while conducting experiments in the microgravity environment aboard the space station.

He spoke to the students from his location in Houston via NASA’s Digital Learning Network.

The NASA Explorer Schools project is managed by NASA Glenn Research Center’s Educational Programs Office.

The project is a key part of NASA’s Office of Education strategy to help develop the next generation of scientists, engineers and explorers through science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) studies.

Legacy Christian Academy has been a NASA Explorer School for three years.


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