Year 4 Students Get to Interview a NASA Scientist

As part of their overarching Project theme, ‘Journeys of Wisdom’, our year 4 children at the City School in Bangkok, which teaches an inquiry-based learning program, were recently lucky enough to interview Dr. Jessie Christiansen, lead scientist for the NASA Exoplanet Archive.

Jessie related how when she was a young child, she would look up at the night sky in awe and wonder; living in a small rural town in Australia, the stars and planets shone brightly and sparked a curiosity in her that eventually – with a few unexpected learning detours along the way – led her to undertake astronomy research at Harvard University and now to her position at NASA. The children were thrilled to be able to ask their interview questions, including:

  • How does mass not get affected by gravity but has gravitational force?
  • How is a magnetic field made, and what is it made of?
  • Do all exoplanets have magnetic fields?
  • What year will we send people to Mars?
  • Is there weather on the exoplanets? What are the different types of weather?
  • Of all the exoplanets you found, which one has the most gravity, and how did you measure it?
  • What are exoplanets made of?

Along the way, the children at our international school in Bangkok learnt about black holes, theoretical white holes, dark matter, next-generation telescopes and took Jessie’s sage advice of avoiding potential ‘spaghettification’ inside a black hole! But most importantly, Jessie reminded the children to “stay curious and always ask questions”.

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Year 4 Project: Journeys of Wisdom
For their Project this year, our Year 4 children embarked on an extraordinary journey into outer space. Each journey, we believe, is a repository of knowledge and wisdom. We live in a world abundant with data and information, but wisdom is scarce, and this became an anchor point in their Project journey. Inspired by the James Webb Telescope, and talks with NASA expert, the children set about to design their very own exoplanet.