The Gary Literacy Coalition (GLC) led the first amateur radio experience between an urban school district and the International Space Station involving students from four Gary schools, said Era C. Twyman, executive director. “Although this has occurred elsewhere, this opportunity had never made available for urban students,” Ms. Twyman said. In fact, hundreds of proposals are submitted, but only 25 to 30 requests are accepted.
Recognizing that literacy is “foundational” to all disciplines as well as science, the NASA approved the coalition’s request about a year ago for 12 students selected by their teachers to speak directly with astronauts in the space station 230 miles high traveling at approximately 17,500 miles per hour. Called the NASA ARISS Contact experience, the radio contact which lasted about 10 minutes, occurred at the Bernard C. Watson Academy for Boys. Led by (GLC) mentor Roy Gillis and three other Amateur Radio Operators, the students asked questions of Astronaut Roy Marshburn on May 8, 2013. Also on board were astronauts Chris Hadfeld and Roman Romanenko. About 35 students from Watson, Frankie Woods-McCullough Academy for Girls, New Tech Academy and Lew Wallace STEM Academy attended, along with Gary officials. This was also a first for elementary, middle and high school students to participate in an amateur radio experience with the space craft. “The students were mesmerized,” Era added.