Oxford Middle School hosts watch party with astronaut Epps

Published 10:05 am Thursday, May 23, 2024

Oxford Middle School buzzed with excitement on Tuesday as students gathered for a special watch party featuring astronaut Jeanette Epps.

The event, attended by several students from the school, connected Epps with 20 students from across the country, offering a rare and thrilling opportunity to learn directly from a pioneering figure in space exploration.

In coordination with Yolanda Logan, assistant principal, and sponsored by The Links, Incorporated “LINKS-STEMREADY Signature Program,” this In-Flight Education Downlink from NASA was an opportunity to expose students to STEM/WildSTEM in conjunction with space exploration.

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In-Flight Education Downlinks are opportunities for students/educators to interact with astronauts aboard the International Space Station through a Q&A session.

Lark Smith, an eighth-grade student at Oxford Middle School, had the distinct honor of asking a pre-recorded video question that was answered by Epps, live from the ISS.

“This moment was met with great pride from the school community, underscoring the significance of student engagement in such enriching educational experiences,” Logan said in a press release.

The event provided an intimate glimpse into the life and career of an astronaut. Students listened as Epps shared the challenges on her journey to become an astronaut and the profound wonders of space travel. Her stories captivated the audience, inspiring many young minds to consider futures in STEM fields.

Following the watch party, students and teachers participated in a hands-on team challenge, to represent our solar system’s constellations by building 3-D models.

This activity not only added an art element, converting STEM to a STEAM project, which reinforced the day’s lessons but also fostered a deeper understanding of astronomical concepts.

Dr. Darlene Washington, a former Oxford School District speech pathologist, and member of the Mississippi Roses Chapter of The Links was also present to provide insight into the organization.

She highlighted the group’s mission, “Friends transforming communities through service.” The Links is an international, not-for-profit corporation, established in 1946, and is one of the nation’s oldest and largest volunteer service organizations.

The Links members contribute more than 1 million documented hours of community service annually. The Mississippi Roses Chapter has served Lafayette, Benton, DeSoto, Marshall and Union counties since its chartering in October 2015. The Mississippi Roses sponsor two National Society of Black Engineers, Jr. (NSBE Jr) Chapters; in Oxford and DeSoto County. Marilyn Barnes, Director of Student Development, was instrumental in recruiting the charter members of the Oxford NSBE Jr. Chapter. Lark Smith serves as its president.

The Oxford NSBE Jr. Chapter meets monthly.

Students interested in joining may contact Logan or Barnes at OMS.