Google Meet connects students with astronauts, artists

Google Meet screen shot of teenage students and adult man
Local weather celebrity Ben Noll talks with Science Olympiad members via Google Meet.

It’s not every day that you get to “meet” an astronaut, children’s book illustrator or a local weather celebrity! As students, teachers and families learned to embrace remote learning these past few months, teachers were able to arrange for some special guests to chat with middle school students via Google Meet.

English Language Arts students in Elena Jordon’s classes had an out-of-this-world experience when they met her cousin, Mike Massimino, a former NASA astronaut and professor at Columbia University.

Using Google Meet, students were able to ask questions about Massimo’s time spent in space as well as the space programs at the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum in New York City where he is senior advisor. Massimino is also a New York Times bestselling author of “Spaceman,” and students were able to enjoy excerpts from his book read by their teacher.

Each week, Art Teachers Chrissy Pahucki and Amber Brown hosted Google Meets featuring guest artists who gave tours of their studios and first-looks at the artwork they’d been working on during the pandemic. Students were able to interact and ask questions, and even played Pictionary and charades with the artists. Guests included painters Carol Douglas and Olena Babak, illustrator Barbara Lanza, art educator and founder of the Art Effect Todd Poteet, film production assistant Cassie Dendanto, and actress Rena Strober.

Science Olympiad team members met meteorologist Ben Noll, a Hudson Valley school closing and delay forecaster “celebrity.” He has more than 42 thousand followers on Twitter, many of them local students, parents and teachers who eagerly await his predictions for school closings and delays!

Noll discussed meteorology and the differences in weather between New York, where he grew up, and New Zealand, where he now lives. Noll is a Valley Central graduate who works for the National Weather Service of New Zealand.

Screen shot of older gentleman talking with teens
Former NASA astronaut and best-selling author Mike Massimino speaks to ELA students about his adventures in space.