Astronaut Carl Walz visits French school of Raphele-les-Arles right from space

Thursday April 25th 2002, at 11.29 AM local time, Christophe F1MOJ, assisted by Jean-Pierre F1EVQ, performed a splendid amateur radio contact with astronaut Carl Walz on board the ISS.

They had set up there amateur radio station at the "Louis Pergaud" primary school in Raphele-les-Arles. Students of the nearby "Lycee Jeanne d'Arc" also assisted to the space talk. Located in Southern France, on the border of the Camargue (the Rhone river delta), Arles, which was founded by the Romans two millennia ago, was being visited by astronaut Carl Walz when the ISS passed over the in sunshine bathed Provence.

Carl answered 16 questions presented by F1MOJ and two teachers translated his answers into French. They wrote the translations on computers allowing the pupils to better understand the messages.

The presence of an ISS astronaut in their classroom, by the means of amateur radio, was the culminating event in a since long ongoing educational project. Driven by the enthousiasm of their teacher, himself an amateur astronomer, the 10 year old pupils followed a space oriented educational programme including work in mathematics (big numbers, proportionality...), French (reading, writing...), history (the conquest of space, astronomy through the ages...), geography (tracing the route of the ISS on charts...), science (astronomy, human body, plants, wave propagation...), art (paintings by Vincent van Gogh...). They observed the apparent movement of the sun, built models and sundials as well as a meteorological station.

Since two years, the class had been involved in projects centered on space science. The pupils participated to the Starshine 2 and to the Starshine 4 projects, consisting of polishing aluminum mirrors for these satellites.

No wonder their enthousiasm was overwhelming when, at the end of the radio contact, they shouted a loud "Merci et au revoir" to Carl Walz and his fellow astronauts. The souvenir of this experience they will cherish for ever.