East St. Louis students participate in Skype call with astronaut on ISS

GATEWAY NATIONAL PARK, Mo. – Seeing new perspectives can do wonders for one’s self. Such is the case for these elementary students from East St. Louis, Illinois.

On Monday morning, they got to see things from 630 feet in the air.

“We went inside the Arch today and we looked out the windows inside the Arch,” said student Janila Hill.

“A lot of them have not been up in the Arch so we did that this morning,” said Erin Hilligoss-Volkmann, director of education for the Gateway Arch National Park Service. “They were amazed by it and loved the tram ride and were amazed by what they could see.”

The students from Dr. Katie Harper Wright Elementary School have been partnering with the National Park Service on educational programs but this one was out of this world.

“They mostly learn about Lewis and Clark and the history of Missouri,” said fourth-grade teacher Alecia Johnson. “So this was very exciting for them to talk to an actual astronaut in space.”

Astronaut Dr. Serena Auñón-Chancellor has been onboard the International Space Station since June. On Monday, she was fielding questions from curious students.

With questions connected to early explorers Lewis and Clark, the students sent their inquiries into orbit, learning how plants grow sideways, and how astronauts eat, drink, and sleep in space.