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Center for Educational Technologies projects have ended (except Challenger Learning Center) and are no longer funded.

Dutch Students Talk Space During e-Mission

May 21 2010

When it comes to reaching the Moon, Mars, and beyond, young explorers speak a universal language.

Today students from De Eendracht primary school in the Netherlands practiced their English and helped NASA rescue a ship lost in the outer planets. The students took part in the Moon, Mars, and Beyond e-Mission™ from the Holland Space Center near Amsterdam, connecting via videoconference with the Challenger Learning Center in Wheeling and assistant director Kathleen Frank. The students were ages 11-12.

This mission was the second time this spring the Challenger Learning Center® has conducted an e-Mission with Dutch students. Today's mission took place via the Holland Space Center, a similar organization to Challenger that works with the European Space Agency in promoting space science. It offers students programs to spur their interest in space and astronomy while building their skills in science, technology, and mathematics. Judging by today's enthusiastic group of students, the e-Mission helped the students achieve those goals.

"Doing the transmission was fun because the messages were on the computer, and they kept coming in," said Kristine, a student who served as one of the communications officers for the mission. Her job involved receiving data about the lost ship that Frank was sending from mission control in Wheeling. "I had a book to help me put the messages in the right sequence, so it wasn't as difficult," Kristine added.

"It was good to work with other kids who I don't know and to learn about the planets," she said. Kristine was one of the more fluent speakers of English, so she translated the information into Dutch for other students.

Roland Taams, who operates the Holland Space Center, complimented the students.

"They're very smart children. They translated for themselves. They have to take English, and they practice in their houses with their families," Taams said.

After the mission Frank asked the students what questions they had. They wanted to know what state Wheeling is in and where it's at in the United States. They also asked what time it was at Wheeling (9 a.m. when the mission ended) and what time Frank had to get up to start the mission on time (4:30 a.m.!). There is a six-hour time difference between Wheeling and The Hague.

The Netherlands is one of 14 countries to which the Challenger Learning Center has expanded its missions.