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> Published: 11/28/2006
> Astronaut inspires middle-schoolers
> By Yadira Betances
> Staff Writer
> LAWRENCE - "Can you eat Chinese food up in space?" "Do you have cable 
> TV?" "How do you brush your teeth?"
> Those were some of the questions sixth- and seventh-graders at South 
> Lawrence East Middle School asked NASA astronaut George Zamka when he 
> visited the school yesterday at the invitation of Principal Dina Hickey.
> For the record, you can eat Chinese food, there is no cable television 
> and you brush your teeth as you do on Earth, except that you can't spit.
> He showed students two videos about the launch process at Kennedy 
> Space Center in Florida and what life is like for astronauts in space.
> While the first video was more technical, the second got lots of 
> laughs from students. The children laughed when a female astronaut was 
> seen on the overhead projector with her frizzy, long blond hair 
> covering her face. Others giggled when an astronaut waited for a 
> peeled banana to finally reach his opened mouth.
> Zamka was selected by NASA for astronaut training in 1998 and in 
> September he will board the space shuttle Atlantis for his first trip 
> into space.
> Zamka will pilot the mission that will deliver the Node 2 connecting 
> module to the international space station.
> "It was really cool," seventh-grader Deanna Desfosses, 12, said. "I 
> have never seen a real astronaut before and it was great that we had 
> the opportunity to see a real space person."
> Listening to Zamka was especially interesting to Stephanie DeLeon, 12.
> "I love space and studying the planets," said Stephanie, who has a 
> giant globe in the middle of her bedroom and several books on the 
> planets on her bookshelf.
> "He really inspired me to try something new," Stephanie said. "He 
> helped me learn more about what astronauts do up in space and how the 
> spaceship goes up and how it comes back from atmosphere."
> You could hear the oohs and aahs from the 300 students in the 
> auditorium as Zamka answered questions from how they prepare for the 
> launch to personal hygiene in the space station.
> "I want to go to space camp because one day I'll do that," said 
> sixth-grader Aneuris Reyes.
> Zamka told the children how he grew up building model airplanes. His 
> childhood hobby led him to train as a Marine pilot, including 66 
> combat missions over Kuwait and Iraq in 1993 during Desert Storm.
> The New Jersey native earned a bachelor of science degree in 
> mathematics from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1984. Upon graduation, he 
> was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps. He also 
> received a masters of science degree in engineering management from 
> Florida Institute of Technology in 1997.
> Liane Arroyo, 13, was mesmerized by Zamka.
> "It was really good and exciting to see how they do such amazing stuff 
> in space," Liane said.
> "He inspired me to become an astronaut myself," said Jennifer 
> Guardado, 12. "You have fun but a lot of time it is hard work."
> Zamka remembers having role models to look up to growing up.
> "I want to do the same for these guys if I can," he said. "If I can 
> get a couple of students wondering about math or what's out there, I'm 
> happy."
> That was the goal Principal Hickey had when she invited Zamka to talk 
> to the students.
> "I was thrilled that we got him to visit," Hickey said. "Our students 
> do not get a lot of exposure (to space travel). Because of this, math, 
> engineering are areas they will probably explore."
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