The lunchtime conversation centered around the Van Allen Belt, solar probes, and magnetic spheres as middle school students learning about space at Johns Hopkins took a break from the study of space missions.
Students from Rockville Maryland’s Parkland Magnet Middle School for Aerospace Technology visited the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel. There they attended a presentation on two space missions that scientists are involved with now. These are the Van Allen Probes and Solar Probe Plus.
According to their teacher, Chris Peterson-Tardif, the subject of the presentation was very much in common with what the students are studying every day. We study space missions,” she said. “These added to the list, especially the solar mission, because we study the sun. They were able to apply the knowledge they learned in class.”
A panel of four scientists told the students the purpose and plan of the missions, and discussed how to overcome the technical difficulties of communicating with spacecrafts traveling so far from Earth.
Those same scientists joined the students over pizza to share more and learn about the students’ plans for science careers. Adrian Hill, an engineer on the Van Allen Probes project, sat with three Parkland seventh-graders, Linease Paul, Lani Tran and Ashley Tien. All three girls said they are more interested in medicine than aerospace but enjoy the science.
They study a lot of science at Parkland. “Every child takes two science classes in an eight-period schedule. With electives, there is the possibility of taking three science classes, making a student’s schedule one-half [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] related (including their math class),” Parkland’s magnet coordinator Donna M. Blaney wrote in an email.
Peterson-Tardif’s class is one of the electives.