A first in the educational history of Cyprus. The English School’s students spoke live to an astronaut currently in space. Mark Vande Hei is a NASA astronaut currently on board the International Space Station. The contact was made on 24 January from the hall of the English School, Nicosia.
The English School’s students had the unique chance to address Mr Vande Hei with their intriguing questions regarding the astronaut’s life, work, and free time in space in addition to enquiring into cases of emergency while staying in the International Space Station.
The discussion took place within the framework of ARISS program. The English School is the first school from Cyprus to have been ever accepted for the program after their successfully completing the one-year-period evaluation conducted by ARISS.
The Minister of Transport, Communications and Works, Mr Marios Demetriades, honoured this special moment for Cyprus with his own presentation after the contact was successfully completed. Mr Demetriades spoke about Cyprus’ space activity so far, mentioning that Cyprus has already been involved in strategic space collaborations, such as ‘’Hellas Sat’’, which will be further expanded in the coming years. Participation in these projects, as the Minister mentioned, already presents significant benefits for Cyprus in the form of the funds invested by the Republic of Cyprus coming back to the country in ways such as research funds. The Minister also encouraged the students to pursue space studies and congratulated the school for its unique achievement within the ARISS program.
The discussion was being held in front of a curious and eager audience of English School students and invitees. The guests included several other schools (The American Academy Larnaca, Limassol and Nicosia, the Senior School, the Foley’s Grammar School, the Pascal English School Larnaca, the Falcon School and the LITC Limassol) to emphasise the fact that many nations work together in harmony on board the ISS.
Before the live discussion, Year 3 students from the English School, as well as the visiting schools, had the opportunity to attend 2 workshops together: Amateur Radio Workshop in the Radio Club (run by the Cyprus Amateur Radio Society, a partner in the project) and the ISS Interactive Workshop (run by the KITION Planetarium and Observatory, also a partner in the project). Visiting teachers were given the opportunity to tour the school and watch a presentation on the ARISS program educational project. Furthermore, students and the project manager of the event (English School Physics teacher, Katie Demetriou) made presentations and showed videos on the preparation of the project and the involvement of the English School’s historic Radio Club, and Astronomy Club. CARS president, Mr Nestoras Jacovides and the director of KITION Planetarium and Observatory, Mr George Troullias also contributed.
The English School wishes to thank:
- Our partners, the Cyprus Amateur Radio Society (CARS) and the Kition Planetarium and Observatory for their precious guidance and help throughout the ARISS project preparation and implementation
- Our technical supporters, CYTA, PM-ICT Solutions, Polycom, DELTA for their technical assistance, solutions and equipment they generously offered to The English School so as to arrange all details and issues in regard to the contact with the astronaut and the ISS.
- Our sponsor: The English School Parents’ Association for their important contribution in the preparation and implementation of the project.