'Astronaut Tim' skypes with Anne Frank Elementary School fourth grade class
Performance artist Tim Belknap straps himself in a harness and answers questions from elementary school children via skype as if he is stationed at the International Space Station. (Produced by Lindsay Lazarski)
The following is a sample letter I send to public school principals to explain the project and invite them to participate:
This November and December, I will be creating a space station television show set. Inside this set, I will be suspended to simulate zero gravity while interacting with classrooms of children through a live video feed (Skype or iChat). Each interactive session will last approximately ten to fifteen minutes. The purpose of this performance is to inspire and educate fourth graders about space travel and exploration.
At the beginning of the live feed, I will introduce myself as an artist pretending to be an astronaut and discuss what it would be like to live in space. The next section will focus on the fundamental scientific concepts learned in late elementary school and scientific experimentation. I will close the broadcast by taking questions from the students about space travel and exploration. To assist the students in the classroom, I have designed creative activity packets for the students so they can continue to expand their knowledge and dreams of the possibility of space travel. My assistant will arrive at your school fifteen minutes prior to the broadcast with all of the necessary technology to assist the teacher and run the interface program (such as Skype or iChat).
At the time I write this letter, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration recently retired its space shuttle program. Since the mid-1960’s, the space shuttle program has completed a wide variety of experimentation and observation. The Atlantis launch was the last manned American flight until 2016, when the Orion-based program plans to start manned flights. Although the shuttle program sustained disasters and criticisms, it has sparked the imaginations and fueled the curiosity of almost anyone who looks upward into the sky.
This program is flexible and is meant to aid teachers in their curriculum. This is a free program, and I would greatly appreciate the opportunity to talk to you about your school’s participation.
Sincerely, Timothy Belknap