An Out-of-This-World Girl Scout Experience

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Girl Scout Katie Blankenship communicates with the International Space Station

Did you know that we have more than 100 Community Partners who have programs available to Girl Scouts of all ages?! Some Community Partner programs tie into Journeys while others help you complete steps in various badge work. Then, there are programs that are just unique, fun and give girls an experience of a lifetime, like Katie Blankenship.

While Becky Blankenship was perusing the Community Partner Program webpage for activities for her troop, she came across the Lawrence Public Library page and saw an opportunity that she couldn’t ignore – the chance to talk directly with an astronaut living on the International Space Station!

While it didn’t work out for other members of her troop to participate, it did for her daughter Katie.

Katie is a fourth generation Girl Scout and is willing to try anything out, as long as Becky talks with her about it before signing her up – you know, like any other teenager! Even though Katie isn’t particularly fascinated with space, she agreed that this was a unique opportunity!

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On Sept. 7, the International Space Station was mapped and scheduled to be flying over the Lawrence Public Library, putting it within communication range for approximately 10 minutes. The Library partnered with the Douglas County Amateur Radio Club to make this event possible – using hand radios to talk with the International Space Station – how cool is that?!

Katie was just one of the teens, and only Girl Scout, who actually got to talk to astronaut Takuya Onishi and asked over the hand radio, “how do you deal with mental health issues in space?”

Onishi’s response, “astronauts are very good at coping with stress and we can talk with psychiatrists every other week, so I think we are OK!”

The whole experience was pretty quick. About 7 minutes later the space station had traveled over the horizon and was no longer within communication range.

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Click the image above and start at 58:47 to see Katie’s communication with Onishi!

Even though Katie wasn’t particularly interested in space coming into this, she left with a desire to find out more. “I’m interested in learning what it takes to be an astronaut and what kind of schooling they have to do,” she said.

We are so lucky and proud to partner with organizations all around our council that provide experiences to Girl Scouts that peak their interest and get them interested in things they wouldn’t be exposed to otherwise!

So what Community Partner Programs will you register your Girl Scout or troop for? Will she take the stage at one of our Arts & Culture partners, learn the science behind sports at the Arrowhead Take-Over, give back to her community volunteering with nonprofit or just have fun attending the Tour of Gymnastic Champions or the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus?! Let us know in the comments below!

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