Calling From Space to Earth

By Communications Specialist, PreK3-8, Stephanie Sanchez

On February 1, Gulliver Middle School science teacher and NASA enthusiast Ms. Valeria Rodriguez traveled to Space Center Houston to participate in a live talkback from the International Space Station (ISS), with astronaut Joe Acaba. Students watched the livestream of the 20-minute video call from their classroom at the Academy; it also aired live on the NASA TV Media Channel.

The call with the Space Station gave science educators from across the country the opportunity to ask Acaba pre-submitted questions. He spoke about experiments he is conducting in space, lesson plans created by Christa McAuliffe, the first teacher in space, who died when the Challenger space shuttle exploded after launch in 1986) and more.

Academy students have been working closely with the International Space Station for three consecutive years, growing plants as part of the Growing Beyond Earth project. Led by Dr. Gioia Massa, a plant scientist at Kennedy Space Center, Growing Beyond Earth engages students to grow different types of plants under artificial light and test which ones could be grown in space as a possible food source for astronauts on board the Space Station.

Ms. Rodriguez is a University of Florida graduate, bilingual children's book author and illustrator, instructional designer and passionate educator who is excited about infusing the classroom with creativity, technology, science and good vibes. She began teaching while serving as a Peace Corps volunteer (Sustainable Agriculture Sector) in Panama. She is also one of only 36 educators from around the U.S. selected to prepare students for 21st century STEM careers through Space Center Houston's inaugural Space Exploration Educator Crew. She can be reached at