Canadian astronaut Zooms into Saskatchewan classrooms

Canadian astronaut Jeremy Hansen visited some Saskatchewan students with a couple of virtual presentations included some Q&A. Zoom / Screenshot

An astronaut visited a few classrooms in Saskatchewan over Zoom on Tuesday.

Canadian Space Agency (CSA) astronaut Jeremy Hansen, who hails from Ontario, spoke to students from Elizabeth Middle School in Kindersley just after lunch.

Two schools or youth organizations from every province and territory were randomly selected through the “junior astronauts” campaign which has structured activities for Grade 6 through Grade 9.

“It’s about … learning about science and technology and understanding how that can be useful for you and your life, taking care of yourself so making sure you maintain your physical fitness and you eat properly,” Hansen said virtually from Houston, Texas.

“And then … teamwork because any time we set out to do something important or big, we rarely are able to do it by ourselves. We do it as a member of a team and taking care of one another becomes really important.”

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Hansen shared insights about space exploration, his training and working at NASA’s Johnson Space Center.

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“I still haven’t flown in space yet. I’m still waiting for my first opportunity to fly, which should be coming up in the next few years but it’s been a really cool experience,” Hansen said.

During the exclusive presentation, he was grilled with a variety of questions from the Kindersley classrooms that included one about how eyesight is affected by being in space.

“Really insightful question about eyesight. We are learning that eyesight — it’s not the same for every astronaut but for some astronauts, their eyesight changes quite a bit. In fact, we fly glasses for astronauts with various corrections,” Hansen said.

“When you’re floating around in microgravity, the blood is distributed differently in your body. When we’re here on Earth, blood kind of sinks down into your core, into your legs and your thighs but in space, it more evenly distributed into your head.

“And so we find that that changes the shape of some people’s eyes a little bit, which changes their vision. But when they come back, most of that reverses and they go back to where they were. But there have been some changes to people’s eyesight that did not reverse and they just had to change their glasses’ prescription. So no big deal but something we’re learning more and about.”

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The other junior astronauts in the province were students selected by the Saskatchewan Science Centre in Regina.

Kindersley is roughly 360 km northwest of Regina.

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