Astronaut visits Erie students with Space Foundation program
By Whitney Bryen, staff writer, Daily Camera
Two years ago, after becoming a teacher liaison for The Space Foundation, Kristina Stem vowed to bring an astronaut to Erie Elementary School — and this week she delivered.
Former astronaut Leroy Chiao wowed Erie Elementary students Wednesday with anecdotes about eating and showering at the International Space Station.
Chiao has been to space four times during his career, including a six-month stint as commander of the Space Station.
"What happens if you throw up in space," one student asked.
"You clean up your mess," Chiao chuckled in response.
Chiao's visit is part of The Space Foundation's Space in the Community program aimed at inspiring students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM.
Space Foundation experts also led lessons about planets and rocket-building projects at the school as part of the program.
Red Hawk Elementary and Erie High schools were among the program's first stops Wednesday kicking off a tour of the St. Vrain Valley School District.
The program will visit Mountain View Elementary School, Black Rock Elementary School, Erie Middle School and Hygiene Elementary School throughout the next week.
Stem, a STEM teacher at Erie Elementary, said her liaison position provided the connections and resources available to bring the program to SVVSD.
"This is a big opportunity for our students to see a real-live astronaut," Stem said. "You should see their eyes bug out. This is an experience they can't get any other place."
Third through fifth grade students watched mesmerized Wednesday morning as Chiao described photos and videos that played on a large screen in the gym of his rocket launch to the Space Station, bubbles of vegetable soup floating around the laboratory and views of Earth from space.