• Students, community members prepare for BAMS in Space

    bamsissuThe district is a step closer to rolling out its newest initiative, BAMS in Space, thanks to help from community members and middle school students who have been working together to set up equipment necessary to make real-time contact with an astronaut on the International Space Station.

    According to local ham radio operator and school board member Jon Guizar, students are working on setting up a rotating antenna system for successful contact with the astronaut through the use of amateur radio. The group met on Sunday, Jan. 21 to install equipment for testing, and the system will soon be reinstalled at the middle school.

    The event, scheduled for the end of February, is made possible through an organization called ARISS -- Amateur Radio on the International Space Station — which supports STEM-related learning opportunities. Community members and students in middle school teacher Jordan Eccher’s class have been working to get their equipment plan in place.

    Other students are participating in space-related curriculum in science class, and art projects to create a T-shirt logo for the event.

    Bellefonte Area Middle School is one of 13 schools in the country selected for this program, Guizar said.

    According to a report from the district, the district was eligible for this initiative through a set of detailed plans explaining class curriculum, and an equipment plan and site survey related to the project, which were approved by a team from NASA and ARISS. Through the education plan, it must have included the ability to incorporate goals of the ARISS program with school curriculum and includes student participation with in-class learning and extracurricular hands-on work.

    Guizar, and fellow ham radio operator Ellwood Brem, a Centre County resident, spearheaded the equipment plan and site survey to enhance the opportunity for a successful amateur radio contact with the astronaut as the space station orbits at nearly 18,000 mph.

    The district is waiting for a date from NASA, which will also assign an astronaut to be a part of the communication. Principal Sommer Garman said an event will be held at the middle school, which will include a panel of local scientists and other leaders, and students and community members who will be able to ask the astronaut questions during about a nine-minute time span.

    *By Brit Milazzo, public relations director, BASD