Students Interact With the International Space Station
“Station, this is Randy Bresnik Senior here with the students. How do you hear me?”
“Well, Dad, got you loud and clear. Welcome, everyone from Samohi, to the International Space Station!” Santa Monica High School graduate Commander Randy Bresnik’s warm greeting to his father, SMSH students, and guests of his former high school from the International Space Station on Monday, October 30, 2017, began the morning’s interaction. Bresnik’s parents opened the broadcast from the high school which hosted students of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District from Grant Elementary School, John Adams Middle School, and Santa Monica College who came with prepared questions for Commander Bresnik and fellow astronaut Joe Acaba. The two astronauts took a break from their space mission to interact with the students.
SMHS students were in high spirits while they waited for their opportunity to interact with the International Space Station. After being ushered into Barnum Hall where the downlink to the astronauts would be broadcasted, the audience anxiously watched the large screen over the stage waiting for the transmission to begin. Select students from around the district were chosen to ask questions which ranged from how SMHS helped Commander Bresnik prepare for space to what space smelled like, which there was a debate over: Bresnik says cream of mushroom soup while Acaba believes it smells more metallic. The astronauts even gave a few demonstrations. One question about fidget spinners led to one spinning in the air around Bresnik and Acaba. Another student, 8th grader Riley Rosenthal, asked about what experiments they were conducting. Acabe produced a picture on a floating iPad which displayed a head of lettuce that they had grown. The two astronauts happily entertained the students while giving them words of encouragement about what they can achieve through learning.
Santa Monica College students Jesse Torres, an Aerospace Engineering major, and Nicholas Rodriguez, a Physics major who serves in the Marine Corps Reserves, were selected to present a question to the astronauts. Both students are part of the STEM Program at SMC which is a student support program for those interested in careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, or Math. The students are also graduates of SMHS which is why they were chosen to question their fellow alumni, Bresnik. Torres asked, “What was the most difficult task you’ve been faced with and how did you go about dealing with it?” Bresnik answered that his most difficult challenge was training for this flight and learning to use the Russian equipment. He studied Russian at SMC and that training is what helped him on his current mission. Torres and Rodriguez were joined at the event by SMC President Dr. Kathryn Jeffry.
After the selected students were finished asking their questions, the broadcast ended with the astronauts wishing their guests a safe and successful year. Bresnik left his alma mater with a more personal message: “Go Vikings!”. The students cheered while the men floated off screen and back into space.