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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