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Anacapa School to Host All-Star Lineup of Space Experts

This month, students at Anacapa School will have the honor of having experts on hand for their annual Synthesis Unit, which will explore the topic “Space: Where Are We Going?” A well-rounded panel of professionals will be available to answer questions regarding the future of the U.S. space program.

The annual, three-day Synthesis Unit is Anacapa’s premier tool for developing critical thinking skills. Each unit provides students with unique opportunities to explore a topic in depth. Expert speakers make individual 45-minute presentations with plenty of time for questions and answers.

This school year, the small independent school has an all-star lineup of presenters ranging from UCSB astrophysicists and astronomy experts on the cutting edge of modern interstellar research to specialists who will discuss how ancient Central American stargazers had, in many ways, a greater understanding of the heavens than some European cultures. The students will also visit Vandenberg Air Force Base to learn about the space launch operations there as part of their research.

The regular daytime Synthesis Unit presentations on Jan. 28-30 are open to the Anacapa School community and prospective students and parents. The school will also host a special public presentation by NASA Astronaut Richard Linnehan at 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 28 at the Santa Barbara Public Library’s Faulkner Gallery. Members of the general public are welcome to attend this free event to hear from Dr. Linnehan, a veteran of four space shuttle flights who has spent more than 58 days in orbit, including six Extra Vehicular Activities (EVAs or “spacewalks”), one of which involved a servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope.

“Our students have such unique experiential learning opportunities during Synthesis Units,” said Anacapa’s founding headmaster, Gordon Sichi. “For many of our bright young minds, this year’s panel will certainly spark an interest in space and astronomy.”

The Synthesis Unit will conclude on Wednesday evening, Jan. 30 with a stargazing party staged by amateur astronomy enthusiasts from the Santa Barbara Astronomical Unit. After the three days of presentations, students will be asked to create academic products designed to synthesize the information learned during the week with the goal of charting the nation’s future in space.

During the week of May 20, Anacapa School is scheduled to connect via radio with an astronaut aboard the International Space Station as the school participates in the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) program, a cooperative venture between NASA and other international space agencies. The 10-minute live forum will bounce between Anacapa students and astronauts as the space station’s orbit passes over Southern California. NASA is expected to confirm a final date for Anacapa School’s ARISS contact sometime in the spring semester.

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