Note: The release below was pre-launch. The Orbital 1 mission carrying the books launched successfully on January 9, and the books will be read by the astronauts some time in the next few months. For updates on the program status, please “like” the Story Time From Space page on Facebook. And to read about Max’s previous reading from space, please visit the Max in Space page.
Worth noting: The launch delay from December to January was a result of a problem that arose on the ISS with the coolant system, requiring the astronauts to do two spacewalks to repair it. Interestingly, this is the very same coolant system that leaks and leads to Max’s heroism in Max Goes to the Space Station, and that also leads to a spacewalk repair in the book!
DATE: December 4, 2013
CONTACT: Patricia Tribe, (250) 328-3043, firstname.lastname@example.org
Astronauts to Read Children’s Books from the International Space Station
Launch Set Aboard Orbital 1 Mission
Imagine astronauts reading stories from space to school children and families around the world, in an exciting new program that combines literature with science education.
You can stop imagining, because it’s about to happen as part of the new Story Time From Space program. The first launch of five books is currently scheduled for December 17 at 10:07 p.m. EST aboard the “Orbital 1” resupply mission to the International Space Station, which consists of an Antares rocket and Cygnus space vehicle built by the Orbital Sciences Corporation. The mission will launch from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.
The Story Time From Space program was conceived by educator Patricia Tribe and astronaut Alvin Drew. Col. Drew says, “What you cannot imagine, you cannot do. When the Apollo missions blasted off and went to the moon, I was right there with those crews — landing lunar modules and cantering along on the surface of the moon. Story Time From Space is intended to ignite children’s engines of adventure, imagination and curiosity and to let those engines take them to any place and time of their choosing.”
The program was successfully tested during Drew’s flight aboard the final mission of the Space Shuttle Discovery in 2011, when Drew read an electronic copy of the book Max Goes to the Moon, by astrophysicist/author Jeffrey Bennett. (A video of the reading is posted on YouTube.) Tribe and Drew chose this book because of the unique way in which it combines solid science, which makes it a perfect springboard for the Story Time From Space goal of combining literature with science (STEM) education. “STEM & Literacy are both very important for our future. By combining them in Story Time From Space we can help teachers & families accomplish both without sacrificing one for the other”, said Patricia Tribe.
After the reading on Discovery, Tribe and Drew worked with NASA and the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) to arrange for physical copies of books to be launched to the International Space Station, so that the astronauts will be able to hold the books in their hands while reading to children around the world. For the upcoming launch, Tribe and Drew chose the complete current set of Bennett’s “science adventures”: Max Goes to the Space Station, Max Goes to the Moon, Max Goes to Mars, Max Goes to Jupiter, and The Wizard Who Saved the World. Each book covers a different set of science concepts tied to a story designed to provide what Bennett calls “education, perspective, and inspiration” for children and adults alike. The books have won numerous awards, and Bennett was recently announced as the children’s category winner of the American Institute of Physics 2013 Science Communication Award, which he will receive in Washington, DC in January.
Once the books reach the International Space Station, the astronauts will video themselves reading the books from the station’s “room with a view,” known as the Cupola, so that Earth will be visible out the windows as they read.
A subsequent launch will then carry up a set of educational science demos created by the Story Time From Space team to accompany the science lessons in the books; the astronauts will also video themselves doing these educational demonstrations. The Story Time From Space team will receive all the videos back on Earth and edit them into a final form designed to be especially useful to classroom teachers & families. The final videos will be posted freely on the web so that they can be used by children and educators around the world. The Story Time From Space team will then create additional educational components to support the videos, including classroom activities, teacher training, informal science programs, library programs and planetarium shows.
For more information or to sign up for updates about developments in the program, please visit the Story Time From Space web site (still under development) and and facebook site. Teachers can also learn more about the program during the upcoming National Science Teachers Association meeting in Denver (Dec. 12-14), at which the Story Time From Space team will have an exhibit booth and several presentations will be offered by team members Patricia Tribe and Alvin Drew, and by author Jeffrey Bennett.
About the Story Time From Space Team: Story Time From Space was started by educator Patricia Tribe and astronaut Alvin Drew, and also now includes educator Debbie Brown-Biggs and veteran astronaut Bjarni Tryggvason who is designing the science demonstrations. The fifth team member is author Jeffrey Bennett, who joined the team after his books were chosen and has granted permission for all his work to be used at no cost by the team for both the videos and for other educational materials to be created. Story Time From Space is working with numerous partner organizations including the NASA astronaut office, CASIS, the University of Denver, the University of Toronto, York University, QDAC Systems, Education Pathways, the Pearson Foundation, MILAD Technology, and P&P Optica.
- The five books being launched in December are all written by Boulder-based astrophysicist and author Jeffrey Bennett, who received his Ph.D. from the University of Colorado, Boulder and also taught at CU for nearly 20 years.
- Three of the books are illustrated by Colorado artists: Max Goes to Jupiter and Max Goes to the Space Station by Michael Carroll of Littleton, and The Wizard Who Saved the World by Roberta Collier-Morales of Boulder.
- Astronaut and Story Time From Space founder Alvin Drew currently lives in Colorado Springs, where he serves as NASA’s liaison to the Air Force. He is a graduate of the Air Force Academy.
- One of the books being launched in December — Max Goes to the Moon — has already been made into a planetarium show by the Fiske Planetarium in Boulder.
Note: In a fortuitous coincidence, the Orbital 1 launch will also be carrying up a set of student-built experiments to be performed on the International Space Station under the auspices of the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) run by the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE). This program plays a role in the book Max Goes to the Space Station, which will be the first book read for Story Time From Space. Moreover, book author Jeffrey Bennett and NCESSE director Jeff Goldstein are long-time collaborators who worked together in creating the Voyage Scale Model Solar System, a permanent educational exhibit on the National Mall in Washington, DC