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PRESS RELEASE / ANNOUNCEMENTS Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Anacapa School Announces Date for Live Q&A with the International Space Station

Independent school to connect via Amateur Radio with NASA Astronaut Chris Cassidy in orbit

Students and faculty of Anacapa School are preparing for a rare event that will allow them to make contact with NASA Astronaut and former Navy SEAL Christopher J. Cassidy. Cassidy is a flight engineer on Expedition 35, the 35th and current long-duration mission to the International Space Station (ISS) and Cassidy’s second spaceflight.


The event will take place on Wednesday, May 22, 2013, from the hilltop campus of QAD, Inc. in Santa Barbara. Students from the Anacapa Near Space Exploration Club (ANSEC) and members of the Santa Barbara Amateur Radio Club will set up the specialized Amateur Radio Earth station early that morning in preparation for the radio contact, which will take place around 10:30 a.m. PDT. The 10-minute live forum will bounce between Anacapa students and Cassidy as the space station’s orbit passes over Southern California. Members of the general public are welcome to attend this free event and are asked to RSVP by emailing space@anacapaschool.org or by calling 805-965-0228.

The arrangement is made possible by Anacapa School’s participation in the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) Teaching From Space program, a cooperative venture between NASA, the American Radio Relay League (ARRL), the Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation (AMSAT) and other international space agencies that coordinates scheduled radio contacts between astronauts aboard the ISS and schools. As part of their preparations, ANSEC members passed the Federal Communication Commission’s Amateur Radio license exam, which will allow them to use specially allocated radio frequencies during the exchange.

Each year, Anacapa students participate in the school’s Synthesis Unit, Anacapa’s premier tool for developing critical thinking skills. Each Unit provides students with unique opportunities to explore a specific topic in depth with expert speakers, field trips and hands-on experiences. This year, the Synthesis Unit topic was “Space: Where Are We Going?” As part of this Synthesis Unit, Anacapa hosted a three-day series of speakers in January who presented on a variety of space-related topics including Santa Barbara-area aerospace contractors, academic researchers and NASA Astronaut Rick Linnehan, who visited Anacapa from NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. After the speaker series, Anacapa students then hopped a bus to visit the space launch complexes at Vandenberg Air Force Base in Santa Barbara County.

“I am so grateful to NASA and our guests for providing us with these opportunities,” said Gordon Sichi, Anacapa’s founding headmaster. “We are privileged to have the support of so many busy organizations who have made time for Anacapa students to get these one-of-a-kind learning experiences.”

As a complement to this year’s Synthesis Unit, Anacapa teachers across varying content areas have incorporated lessons regarding space, astronomy, NASA, and the ISS into their subject curriculum in preparation for a special guest presenter who will join in from 250 miles above Earth!

“We have had a fascinating year learning about space with some really excellent expert guests,” said Levi C. Maaia, the faculty advisor to ANSEC. “This live contact with Astronaut Cassidy while he is actually in orbit aboard the space station is the perfect ending to a great academic unit.”

ARISS and Teaching From Space, a NASA education office, support participating schools in instilling interest in science, technology, engineering and math subjects and careers among students. The ARISS radio contact is one in a series of educational activities in the U.S. and abroad to improve teaching and learning in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Teaching From Space promotes a variety of learning opportunities and builds partnerships with the education community using the unique environment of human spaceflight.

Astronaut Chris Cassidy’s NASA Bio: http://www.jsc.nasa.gov/Bios/htmlbios/cassidy-cj.html

Videos from the Anacapa School Synthesis Unit “Space: Where Are We Going?”: http://tinyurl.com/ckmzn8o

Live video of the contact: http://www.anacapaschool.org/ansec

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