Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Chris Hadfield Virtual School Day!

Today our entire school participated in the Chris Hadfield Virtual Classroom with the National Film Board.  It was awesome!!   Thank you to Mr. Morin for his tech help and all of the teachers for allowing this event to take place and disrupt our school schedule.  Thank you to the NFB and Commander Hadfield himself for providing such a unique opportunity.  
We are truly inspired.

See the NFB Space School site  for more details

Here are a few notes I took that included so many words of wisdom and Hadfield's great outlook on life.  I've paraphrased it as best I could.   He answered a variety of questions from students all over Canada.  Unfortunately our questions were not accepted but we had fun listening anyways!  I was really impressed about how personal Chris Hadfield made each interaction.  He addressed each student by name and had something to say about each part of Canada they lived in.  Class act.  Thank you Commander Hadfield!

 "You get strong in the gym but thin in the kitchen.  Take care of your body."

Pollution from space looks like a film of grey or fog over the city.  Most of the world is still pristine.  You see an unblemished natural world and then you see a part infested with people like a termite mound.  Most of the world is clean and it give us hope.
"Every good decision you make inspires everyone else"

The most concerning impact on the environment is water.  Only a fraction of the water on earth is fresh water.   Without water we are done.  The great lakes water levels have never been lower.  What are the long term symptoms and impacts on fresh water?  Conserve!

Planets and stars look a little bit different from space.  Earth looks significantly different because we are looking at it from orbit and the ISS is very close to the world.  Planets look about the same.  Because there is no atmosphere in the way the stars don't twinkle and are perfect points of light.  If you went outside on a clear night far away from the city it will look as close to that as possible.     

Earth's accuracy from maps is a tough one. Imagine peeling an orange and trying to make it flat.  You just can't.  So maps of the world aren't round and world isn't flat.     From space direct image above a certain part of the world is "flat" and the same as maps but if you look further away (north, south etc)  the world become exaggerated and magnified because of the curve of the earth.

When is it bedtime on the ISS?  The ISS goes around the earth 16 times a day.  16 sunrises and sunsets a day make it hard to have a concept of time.  The ISS chose to make it's time to be same as London, England. Half way between Houston and Moscow.  So you just go into your sleeping area, zip up your sleeping bag and without windows there is no light.  You just relax.  It is like floating in a beautifully warm swimming pool.  Totally relaxed.  I slept wonderfully in space

In space there is no fridge or oven.  Space food is packaged freeze-dried food you re-hydrate.  It will last for years but isn't that tasty.  I didn't become an astronaut for the food.  Because there is no gravity your sinuses do not drain and so your nose is stuffed and food is hard to taste.  The best meal was the shrimp cocktail because of the spicy horseradish in the sauce.  It was a decongestant. (LOL!)

There is no running water so when you brush your teeth you swallow the toothpaste and all and chase it with some water.  You also take sponge baths and so you can get clean with a very small amount of water.

It is important to have psychological support.  Some included being able to phone and email family, movies, books, etc.  Was it hard being away from your family on the ISS?  Chris has lived all over the world (including Cold Lake where I used to work!) and even though he misses his family and missed them when he was on the ISS he is used to it.  His children live all over the world as well and so they have a sky site they keep open and chat whenever they can.

There are over 200 experiments being performed on the ISS.  The one he focused on was researching a way to analyse blood using a machine the size if a microwave.  It is a new Canadian invention that can be used on the ISS but also in remote places in the world.

In regards to the cost of the Canadian space program Chris said he did his research and found that for every thousand dollars we spend 240 $ on healthcare and only 3 cents for astronaut program.  Do we need to spend more or spend less?  It is worth it understand our health from the ISS and here on earth.  It is important to invest in our space program because right now being an astronaut  when you grow up is possible in Canada and if it wasn't out great young minds would move to other countries.

How do you settle arguments or personal conflict on the ISS?  After 21 years as an astronaut he has never been asked that.  You are stuck together small space and so the best solution is prevention.  They all have worked for years together in advance and try to anticipate any problems.  It is easy to fight when someone doesn't listen.  So learn how to listen to what, why and how someone is saying something and figure out the problem and don't let your emotions get in the way.

Being an astronaut on the ISS is a dream come true.   Realizing that dream is a joyful feeling. 

Your body naturally atrophies in space.  We work out two hours a day on the ISS.  When we get back to earth we have lost some muscle and heart strength.  Two weeks of exercising helped me feel almost normal.  It too me four months to be able to run.  It will take a full year to get bone density back.
Keep making decisions every day that move your life along the direction of the thing you want.  It will take a while.  Always  your dreams in mind.

Hadfield has been a musician his whole life and his family is musical.  Music is fundamental and has been around since before recorded history.  It is hard to make a living but fun.  He has always tried to include music in his  life.  It adds texture and humanity to what is going on.  Helps balance out your life.

What are you going to do now?   He asks himself this daily.   He wants to continue to do things to make him proud of his life.  Help others.  Something worthwhile.   Educating.  Being university professor.  Tech consultant.  Help influence Canada.  Run for red cross or Influence people in TV for life choices and environmental issues.  Lots of goals.  I want to be able to say  "This was a good decade!"


  1. I was fortunate enough to be at the school and got to listen in on the virtual classroom. Our kids (and all of us as Canadians) are so lucky to have Col. Hadfield share his experiences and knowledge! He is an amazing role model and mentor!