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Washington Voices

Astronaut encourages Broadway students to study hard

Sat., March 8, 2014, midnight

It’s not every day an astronaut comes to visit your school.

At Broadway Elementary School on Wednesday, students were treated to a visit from NASA astronaut Stanley Love.

Love was on the Space Shuttle Atlantis in February 2008 for a mission to the International Space Station.

He brought a video of his mission to the Central Valley school. He described taking off, going on spacewalks, and moving a science laboratory from the shuttle to the space station.

He told them during the two weeks he was aboard Atlantis, he traveled about 5 million miles.

After his presentation, he answered questions. What was his most exciting discovery?

His mission wasn’t a scientific mission, he explained. They were there to deliver the laboratory and attach it to the space station.

“Astronauts are like construction workers,” he said.

What inspired him to be an astronaut?

He said he always wanted to be an astronaut, ever since he was in first grade when we first landed on the moon.

“I guess I just never grew out of that,” he said.

If he saw a UFO, would he have to keep it a secret?

Love said he and his crewmates received no instructions about if they saw a UFO, but they did have a lot of cameras with them if they did see one.

“We would have taken all kinds of pictures,” he said.

What do you need to do to go to space?

He explained that when he was in elementary school, he worked very hard, especially in his math and science classes. He studied hard in middle school and in high school and took advanced science and math classes.

He went to college and studied hard for his bachelor’s degree in physics. Then he went to graduate school and earned his master’s degree and a doctorate. During that time, he applied to become an astronaut. He said he applied seven times and was interviewed for the position three times.

He encouraged the students to study very hard if they want to be an astronaut.

How do you cook in space?

“We cook food in space very badly,” he said. There are food warmers and there is freeze-dried food. There are also meals ready to eat, which Love explained is the same food the military gets.

Principal Lori Johnson said a parent suggested the school apply to NASA for the visit.

“I was shocked that we were approved,” she said. The parent-teacher organization helped to pay for the visit, along with a fundraiser the students held, the Love for Astronaut Love Coin Drive.

One of the students who donated was kindergartner Mylee Ludeman.

“When I found out the astronaut was coming, I told my mom and dad about it and they said yes, I could bring my whole piggy bank,” she said.

Johnson said Love did what he could to help keep the cost low. He now lives in Houston, so Broadway and a school in Portland split the cost.

After the assembly in the gym, Love visited fourth- and fifth-grade classrooms to answer more questions, with a focus on careers in the space program.

For the younger students, it was a pretty cool visit.

“I actually want to be an astronaut when I grow up,” said kindergartner Collin Fox.

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