Allison Wielenga to talk with astronauts

Through her time at a 4-H space camp, Allison Wielenga was able to submit some questions to be answered by astronauts aboard the International Space Station, which will be answered during an online event Sept. 27.

SIOUX CENTER—One Sioux Center Christian School student is enjoying her chance to ask astronauts some questions about their work and life aboard the International Space Station in a special event that will be viewable online Sept. 27.

Thirteen-year-old Allison Wielenga of Orange City will be among 20 Iowa children who had questions recorded for astronauts to answer. A link to watch the event will be made available through www.extension.iastate.edu/4h/nasa-educational-downlink.

“Since I was chosen through 4-H and because I’m one of the older kids to do this, I got to ask two questions instead of one,” Allison said. “My questions were how is the training simulator different from being on the International Space Station, and can you see the seasons and weather change from space.”

She asked that latter question with hurricanes in mind, as she wondered if astronauts could see them form and move along its path from the ISS.

“I asked that based on the thought of if you can see them forming, can they predict where they’ll go and use that information … to help save people,” Allison said.

In addition to having a pair of questions recorded, Allison got to do the closing remarks for the event.

The recording took place Aug. 25 at the ISU Extension office in Orange City.

“I plan to watch it with my classmates live,” said Allison, who is an eighth-grader at Sioux Center Christian School.

There was plenty of excitement to be involved in this, but she added that there was stress and nervousness with it, too. As someone who is shy, there was some anxiety about doing something that’s going to be seen by so many people.

“I’m very proud to represent 4-H and Sioux County, so this has been a joy and exciting for me,” she said.

She got the opportunity to participate in the event through her involvement in 4-H and Astro Camp back in June.

The Iowa State University Extensive Services describes Astro Camp as a chance for 4-H’ers to get involved in STEM and “inspire future astronauts and engineers to learn about space with activities unique to NASA.”

Camp activity highlights include the creation of a mission patch, building a space habitat, and a statewide rocket launch.

“It’s a 4-H-based camp where you fifth-eighth-graders come in and learn more about astronomy and meteors and the International Space Station,” Allison said. “We made rockets and launched them.”

While attending Astro Camp, she was asked if she wanted to have a chance to talk with astronauts.

“After jumping for joy, I said, ‘Yes, yes, yes, I really want to do that,’” she said.