Ashley Contrell, of Kyrene Centennial, asks a question to astronauts from mission control at the Johnson Space in Houston during a live video call with a group of 7th-grade students Thursday.

Diana Martinez/AFN

As part of NASA’s outreach to get young students excited about space and science, nearly 100 seventh-graders at Kyrene Centennial Middle School met and chatted with astronauts this week during a live video call.

Three classes compiled into one Thursday morning at Centennial as astronauts and staff from mission control at the Johnson Space Center in Houston called in and took questions from students.

Science teacher Jon Hutman, of Centennial, said his students just finished up their section of astronomy and has seen their interest in space grow.

“I see a lot of excitement in them,” Hutman said. “All of a sudden students have become absolutely inspired by it.”

About 27 students from the group were prepared to ask questions to the astronauts, ranging from a curiosity in how they control their movement in zero gravity, what kind of items they can take with them in space, and even whether or not astronauts suffer from psychological issues from long-term space missions.

The Johnson Space Center serves as the lead NASA center for the International Space Station. Centennial is also one of few schools in the state to participate in the live video chat with NASA.

Student Taylor Ablen said her favorite part about the video chat was being able to interact with real astronauts.

“I just liked hearing their answers, and they told me a lot about what they do,” said Ablen, who also mentioned she wants to someday be an astronaut.

Students also got to see video footage of everyday life in space for some astronauts, and asked other general questions to staff about space.

“Space is just something you can tie into everything,” Hutman added.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or Follow her on Twitter @dmartinezAFN.

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