Home Speech-Language Pathology Blast Off and Get Your Students Talking About Space

Blast Off and Get Your Students Talking About Space

by Bridget Murray Law
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The crew of NASA Expedition 55-56 perparing to launch for the International Space Station on March 21.

What are you doing this Wednesday, March 21? We have a suggestion for you. Watch NASA TV to see astronaut Andrew (Drew) Feustel blast off for the International Space Station from Baikonur, Kazakhstan, in a Soyuz rocket.

You can follow the space station’s Expedition 55-56 journey with your students using a curriculum of space activities developed by ASHA’s School Services Team. Each activity addresses a language domain such as listening, speaking, reading and writing, and is paired with a sample state education standard.

Husband of speech-language pathologist Indira Bhatnagar Feustel and commander of Expedition 56, Drew Feustel is linking the expedition to communication sciences and disorders. He’s bringing aboard a number of tributes to audiologists, SLPs and communication. One of them is a miniature replica of ASHA’s Annie Glenn Award, which Drew is transporting to recognize the importance of communication on Earth, in space and beyond.

Commenting on communication’s importance to space station operations, Drew says, “Communication is mission-critical. Crew members talk with each other about anything and everything because we’re not only coworkers, we’re family and friends—we’re co-inhabitants of a very small volume of space.”

Drew is also taking ASHA certification patches in audiology and speech-language pathology and a T-shirt that says “Audiologists and Speech-Language Pathologists Rock!” And he’ll send photos of himself with the items back to Earth.

Coordinating the effort with ASHA is his wife Indira, a Houston-based SLP specializing in adult neurogenic disorders. For Indira, Drew’s space journey seemed an apt opportunity to showcase the Annie Award, named for Annie Glenn, wife of pioneering astronaut John Glenn and a champion of people with communication disorders.

Indira served on the treatment team for former congressional representative and “Annie” award recipient Gabrielle (Gabby) Giffords during her recovery from a gunshot wound to the head. Just months after the shooting, in May 2011, Giffords attended the launch of the Space Shuttle Endeavour, which was commanded by her husband, Mark Kelly. On Kelly’s crew was Drew.

Accompanying Drew on the rocket Wednesday will be fellow U.S. astronaut Richard Arnold and Russian cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev. Drew and Arnold, a former science teacher, will promote Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) concepts to children following the expedition in schools. Once on the station, Arnold, Drew and Artemyev will join three others. This is Drew’s third space flight.

Follow Drew’s adventures on Twitter and Instagram: @astro_feustel. Check the education tab on nasa.gov website for educational videostreams. And watch the launch streamed live on NASA TV on March 21.


Bridget Murray Law is editor-in-chief of The ASHA Leader. bmurraylaw@asha.org

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