Benway students from Mr. Puccia’s Environmental Science classes as well as other interested students participated in a live chat with NASA Airborne Science Program Mission. On Friday, April 24th students gathered around a classroom Smartboard, logged in, and chatted with members of Operation Ice Bridge.
Operation IceBridge, a six-year NASA mission, is the largest airborne survey of Earth’s polar ice ever flown. It will yield an unprecedented three-dimensional view of Arctic and Antarctic ice sheets, ice shelves and sea ice. These flights will provide a yearly, multi-instrument look at the behavior of the rapidly changing features of the Greenland and Antarctic ice. In preparation for the chat, Mr. Puccia and his students learned about the DC-130 on the http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/icebridge/ website. They also researched the NASA crew they would be chatting with as well as data from previous IceBridge missions.
At the time of the chat the crew was at 1400 feet, flying down glaciers in Greenland. Students chatted with J. Sonntag, field team leader, C. Barnes Digital Mapping System operator and K. Rabill ground operator. Students were anxious to learn of the wildlife in the area as well as weather patterns and specific information about the plane they were using. When asked what type of training each member of the team had C. Barnes stated “I have a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, but most of what I do now involves computers. I think a willingness to learn, and interest in science is more important than the specific degree.”
This program is an exciting opportunity for our students to engage with NASA scientists, pilots, and other crewmembers about environmental issues in our world. Earlier in the year Mrs. Bartolomeo’s Life Skills class also chatted with the IceBridge crew on an earlier mission. Part of their discussion pertained to the amount of schooling and the education that is needed to become a member of NASA! Benway School’s staff and students looks forward to continuing this rewarding educational relationship!