On April 24, 2019, the fifth and sixth grade students at Beebe School skyped with astronaut Jessica Meir. Meir is the sister of Becka Playford, a teacher at the Beebe. Playford had to follow a strict protocol to organize the Skype call happen.
First, Playford submitted a proposal to NASA, requesting a Skype call. The proposal included how the event would run and all the technical details that the school collaborated with Principal Barbara O’Brien and the Director of Technology Natalia Brennan. Once all of that was sorted out, they were able to send it in. Playford said that awaiting the results was difficult as “sending a proposal to NASA [won’t] guarantee a call to be arranged.” After three weeks, NASA got back to the school and the Skype call had been organized.
One of NASA’s main purposes is to educate people about their space program and science in general. Along with the lesson, the students were allowed to ask as many questions as they pleased. But putting the science and technology to the side, Playford also saw this as an opportunity for the students to realise that “[anyone] can make [their] dreams come true.”
Playford was clearly ecstatic about being able to provide her fellow staff and students with this incredibly rare experience and the students were able to learn a lot. Playford “enjoyed sharing the information.” After the Skype call ended, many of the students continued asking Playford questions when they saw her in the halls.
The students got an inside look about Meir’s life. By first grade, Meir had already decided her that she would become an astronaut. She obtained her bachelor’s degree in Biology from International Space University. She also received her Doctorate in Marine Biology from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Dr. Meir also studied the physiology of marine mammals and birds focusing in on the oxygen reduction in emperor penguins and Northern California elephant seals. She also became an assistant professor at the Harvard Medical School, where she continued her research. Playford hoped that students could use her sister’ss story as inspiration to follow their own dreams. To take whatever they are passionate about and not dismiss it as a dream and instead, work hard and be persistent to shape the future that they could be happy and proud of.