Glen Orchard students talk to Canadian astronaut on Skype
Photo by Jennifer Bowman
Students felt like they had the real experience of speaking to someone in space after a choppy Skype interview with Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques. Not being able to understand Saint-Jacques, students finally read their questions to the audience while Saint-Jacques typed his response.
BRACEBRIDGE - Local students got a feel for what’s it’s like talking to an astronaut in space, bad connection and all.
Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques answered questions from students attending Glen Orchard Public School and Bracebridge and Muskoka Lakes Secondary School during a Skype interview on Wednesday morning that took place at the Rene Caisse Theatre.
Despite testing everything the night before, the long-distance connection only allowed students to hear choppy pieces of Saint-Jacques’ answers. It was nothing new to the astronaut, who smiled at the end of each answer he had to type.
“This is like a space mission,” Saint-Jacques told them at the end of the interview. “We have to talk and see each other thousands of miles away, but we find a way to make it work and get the job done.”
Saint-Jacques was born in Quebec City, speaks five languages, is a doctor, mountaineer, engineer, husband, and father of one child. He hopes his mission in space improves Canadians’, especially students’, awareness of space achievements and the benefits of being a space-faring nation. He also wants to strengthen Canada’s reputation as a friendly nation.
Glen Orchard students have been learning about space, space travel, and what it’s like to be an astronaut for three weeks before the interview. They prepared a list of questions for Saint-Jacques as well as opened the floor to high school students to ask questions.
Gerry Reisenburg, a Grade 7-8 teacher at Glen Orchard Public School said the students were well prepared and probably anticipated a lot of the answers Saint-Jacques gave.
A lot of the questions the high school students asked, the Glen Orchard students already knew the answers to, he said.
Questions ranged from Saint-Jacque’s personal goals while he’s in space and how his family feels about the mission, to how to deal with space junk and whether he foresees another space race.
“There needs to be motivation to do something new to have a space race,” he said.
He told students he sees things moving toward collaboration instead of competition as people work together instead of beating each other out.
Rebecca Leask, a Grade 8 student at Glen Orchard, was particularly interested in how astronauts live in space and how long it takes to recover.
Saint-Jacques told students recovery from a space mission has greatly improved since the first missions when astronauts returned unable to stand up, taking weeks or months to recover because of bone and muscle loss.
Now astronauts exercise on a bicycle or treadmill for two hours a day while they are in space so they adapt more easily, he said, though there is still the dizziness to contend with.
Reisenburg said the experience brought back memories of movies like Apollo 13 where connections between Earth and those in space were very choppy.
“It had that sort of feel to it, like an old movie,” he said.