Students To Speak With Astronaut

OSKALOOSA — Oskaloosa Elementary School (OES) fourth graders will get an opportunity to talk with an astronaut serving on the International
Space Station.

The seven OES fourth grade classes – 157 students – will be visiting the IPTV headquarters in Johnson on Jan. 19 to attend the station’s downlink with Dr. Peggy Whitson. Whitson, originally from Mt. Ayr, is part of Expedition 50/51 to the International Space Station (ISS). In addition to the OES students, a fourth grade class from Mt. Ayr will also be attending.

“Our superintendent, Russ Reiter, was superintendent in Mt. Ayr, where she is from,” said OES 3-5 Principal Tim Veiseth. “The two classes are Mt. Ayr’s fourth grade and our fourth grade because of her connection with Mr. Reiter.”

Reiter said he had attempted to get Whitson to visit OES but Whitson left for her mission before anything could be nailed down.

“Then [IPTV] contacted us to see if we would be interested in doing that, and chose our [school] and Mt. Ayr,” Reiter said. “It’s nice to keep that connection with Peggy. She’s outstanding in all that she’s done.”

The chance for the students to speak with Whitson while she’s in space is a great honor, Reiter commented.

“The fourth grade [students] should be excited,” he said. “The community should be excited.”
The students are absolutely excited about the event, Veiseth said.

“We found out about it the first part of October,” he said. “On Nov. 17, people from IPTV came down. There were three activities [the students] needed to do.”

One was a mission patch activity, where the OES students designed their own patches. According to information from IPTV, each expedition to the ISS has its own mission patch, which has the names of the crew and includes a design showing aspects of the mission and the crew’s lives.
The students also read a short biography on Whitson, and IPTV recommended students read more about space and astronauts in the time before the event.

The final assignment from IPTV was for the students to come up with questions for Whitson.

“Twenty kids will have a chance to talk to her and ask a question while she’s up in the International Space Station,” Veiseth said. Students were each to come up with several questions.

Veiseth stated that he didn’t know if the students really know a lot about what they’re in for.

“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity for our kids,” he said. “IPTV will actually be broadcasting this around the state of Iowa so other kids can see it.
It’s a neat opportunity for our kids to go up there and be a part of it.”

Stor provided by the Oskaloosa Herald

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