Monaro High School

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27 May 2021

Last week I attended one of the coolest events I have ever been to in my life. I was invited to join some amazing students from Monaro High School in Cooma as they spoke live with NASA astronaut Colonel Mark T Vande Hei aboard the International Space Station.


Thanks to the work of organising teacher Therese Dawson, principal James Armitage and the Snowy Mountains Amateur Radio Club, students were able to talk in real time with the space station as it orbited 400 kilometres above the earth, travelling at 27,000 kilometres per hour.


These 15 students were able to ask some impressive questions about what life is like on the space station, including how astronauts adjust to microgravity, what it's like to launch into space aboard a rocket, how they deal with sewerage issues and whether there had been any unexplained occurrences.


One of my favourite questions was that of Maya, who asked what skills she should focus on learning as a young Australian woman who is keen to go to the space station herself. Colonel Vande Hei responded that she should focus on doing things that she loves, things that push her outside her comfort zone and things that come with an element of risk, advice we should all take and probably things that members of this place do.


Our children's futures can be whatever we dream them to be, provided they are given the right opportunities to succeed. I look forward to the day that a former student of one of our schools in Eden-Monaro will be talking to other schools from the space station.