NASA Astronauts Talk with Students Live on December 12

NASA Downlink Offers Out of this World Experience for Students
Posted on 11/15/2017
NASA Downlink

Live event to be hosted in new IMAX auditorium at Galaxy Theatres Luxury+ Gig Harbor

Students from the West Sound STEM Network will speak with NASA astronauts living, working and doing research aboard the International Space Station. On the morning of Tuesday, December 12, approximately 1,000 students from West Sound STEM Network school districts will participate. The 20-minute, Earth-to-space call will air live on NASA TV’s Media Channel and the agency’s website.

Select students will be able to ask questions of NASA astronauts including Mark Vande Hei, who is currently aboard the International Space Station on Expedition 53. Discussion will include topics about living aboard the space station, NASA’s deep space exploration plans, and science in space. The downlink will be an invaluable instructional tool and will be available for classroom use across the nation.NASA Downlink
“Experiences like the NASA Downlink inspire young and old to think of what is possible for future career pathways,” stated South Kitsap School District Superintendent Karst Brandsma. “We have the challenge of preparing students for jobs that may not currently exist.” 

West Sound STEM Network was selected through a competitive process to host a downlink with the station. Across the nine participating districts, students have been preparing for the event by studying the space station, astronaut biographies, and the current research and activities happening aboard.

“West Sound STEM Network students, teachers, and administrators are very excited about the opportunity to directly engage with our national space agency,” said Dr. Aaron Leavell, Superintendent of the Bremerton School District. “As we continue targeted strategies to improve student access to STEM and increased student performance, real-world opportunities like the NASA downlink are critical to 21st century skills.” 

Linking students directly to astronauts aboard the space station provides unique, authentic experiences designed to enhance student learning, performance and interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and access to career-connected learning. This in-flight education downlink is an integral component of NASA’s Year of Education on Station, which provides extensive space station-related resources and opportunities to students and educators. 

“We know that engaging our students in innovative STEM experiences will pay dividends in the future for college and career readiness. At West Sound STEM Network, we are committed to strengthening the pipeline at all levels,” said Dr. Kareen Borders, South Kitsap School District Director of STEM Programs and Outreach. “The Career-Connected Learning that occurs in preparation for the downlink with NASA is a phenomenal opportunity.” 

Galaxy Theatres Luxury+ Gig Harbor will host the live downlink in their recently opened IMAX auditorium. Students will ask their questions while viewing the astronauts on IMAX’s state-of-the-art digital cinema projectors and 71 foot, floor-to-ceiling screen. The Gig Harbor location’s ten remaining auditoriums will broadcast the downlink live for students not participating in the live discussion.

More than 1,200 attendees are expected on-site, including regional and state political, educational, military, and business leaders. Media interested in attending the event should contact Dr. Kareen Borders via email at or phone 360-874-7059. Galaxy Theatres Luxury+ Gig Harbor is located at 4649 Point Fosdick Dr. NW, Gig Harbor, WA 98335.

or more information, videos and lesson plans highlighting research on the International Space Station, visit:

Housed in South Kitsap School District and equitably serving all Network members, the West Sound STEM Network is a dynamic collaboration of educators, business leaders, and representatives from local government and the military, working to introduce and link students, teachers, and the community to the vast array of Science, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics (STEM) resources in our region. As with other STEM Networks in Washington, the goal is to enhance student learning in these key academic areas. Our students’ ability to understand and apply science, technology, engineering, and math principles not only increase their understanding of the world, but also translates to innovation and advancement for local business and industry. School district Network members include Bainbridge Island School District, Bremerton School District, Central Kitsap School District, Chimacum School District, North Kitsap School District, North Mason School District, Peninsula School District, Port Townsend School District, and South Kitsap School District. Steve Luther Elementary School in La Palma, California and the Billings School District in Montana will participate remotely.