On Tuesday January 27, 2009, 15003 Major (Retired) Michael McKay (RMC ’85) took a morning off from his work to come and visit the children at Castor Valley Elementary School(CVES) in Greely Ontario (in the south end of Ottawa). The kids were divided into two groups to hear him speak about life as an astronaut and a bit about being in space. The first group consisted of about 150 grade 6 through grade 8 kids and the second was about 140 grade 4 to grade 6 kids. Maj. McKay told them of the selection process for the Canadian Space Program and that there is currently a search for 2 new Canadian Astronauts. He told of learning about living in space, the ISS, shuttle, rockets, scuba diving, parachuting, gliding and many other items. Stories were told of the ‘Vomit Comet’ and the basis of the sense of balance-the inner ear. The talk was both entertaining for the kids as well as educational. In kids terms, Major McKay describe the effects of space on the body from the puffy faces and ‘nasal’ speaking to muscle atrophy and bone loss. Of course, being kids, both aliens and bathroom use in space were also addressed. The children were thrilled to be speaking to a former astronaut live in their school. Major McKay’s visit that morning was part of a very special day for the students at CVES. At 2:34 pm that same afternoon, Amateur Radio on International Space Station (ARISS) helped CVES become the 400th school to contact the astronauts aboard the International Space Station. Over about 9 minutes, Col. Mike Fincke answered questions from 12 students from the school. In speaking with some of the students after contacting the ISS and viewing the multimedia presentation, the kids were well equipped to understand what they were seeing and hearing thanks in part to what Major McKay had spoke of that morning. The Staff, Parent Teacher Home and School Association, and especially the students of CVES would like to sincerely Thank Major Michael McKay for taking the time to visit the school. Who knows what their futures will bring.
Kim Bates-President of Castor Valley Elementary School
Parent/Teacher Home & School Association