On 8 December 2022, at roughly 12:09 PM, students, staff, a group of parents and members of the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) gathered together in a Year 6 classroom at Junior School Leidschenveen (JSL), The British School in The Netherlands, counting down the minutes, maybe even seconds, in excited anticipation. After months of preparing for this very moment, the satellites, mounted on the school for the occasion, were primed for a direct radio link between the amateur radio station set up in the classroom and the amateur station on board the International Space Station (ISS). The clock ticked to 12:11, and the room filled with the sounds of static, a beep, the radio operator’s call sign, and then, “Do you read? Over.” A breathless second passed, and the clear voice of NASA Astronaut Josh Cassada (Captain, U.S. Navy, PhD) greeted the school, “Welcome aboard the International Space Station!”.  

JSL in Space 

After weeks of learning about space and satellite radio communication through classroom activities, guest speakers from the European Space Agency, European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) and TU Delft, rocket launching competitions, singing and performing space-themed songs, and more, the students’ learning culminated in a successful live contact with an astronaut orbiting the Earth on the International Space Station! For approximately eleven minutes (the duration that the ISS is within range of the satellite link), space exploration was not theoretical; it was real and, via satellite link, brought to life inside the students’ own school.  

We feel so proud to be part of this school. Thank you so much for providing our kids with this wonderful, once-in-a-lifetime experience!

BSN Junior School Parent

16 British School students ranging in age from 4 to 11, dressed in their ‘JSL in Space’ t-shirts designed for the occasion by Year 6 students during Enterprise Week, confidently asked Dr Cassada their prepared questions to learn what it is like to live and work in space. 

As the children spoke, tears welled up as I saw their confidence grow and amazement as astronaut Josh Cassada responded to their questions.

Barbara van DuijneBSN JSL Teacher

Exploring New Horizons  

Since its establishment in 1931, The British School in The Netherlands (BSN) – an international school of over 2,100 students from nearly 90 different nationalities spread over Junior and Senior campuses in 2022 – has been dedicated to providing an education that inspires and prepares its students to become successful global citizens.  

I can’t think of a more exciting opportunity for a young person than being able to talk live to an astronaut on the International Space Station! Events like this can help to spark a lifelong love of learning in our students.

Heath MonkBSN CEO
JSL In Space 1st contact with the space station

While it is not every day that students have the chance to interact with an astronaut in space, providing experiences and opportunities both inside and outside the classroom that capture students’ imagination and engage them in their learning is a hallmark of the education offered at the BSN. At the heart of BSN’s mission is the experience that every child in their care will have during their time at the school. The environment, school culture and personalised approach to teaching and learning encourage students to be curious, pursue their interests and ultimately spark a lifelong love of learning.   

A Staff Dedicated to Providing the Best for Our Students

Providing the best experience for each student is possible through the commitment and resolve shown by the staff and teachers at The British School. Mr Monk notes, “Our staff are proud of where they work and are dedicated to the students and families they serve.” The live contact with the International Space Station is a fantastic example of this dedication and how everyone at the school contributes to creating exceptional student experiences.

Nearly two years ago, a British School parent approached Dave Onley, a member of the JSL Concierge team, upon learning of his experience and interest in radio. Dave first became interested in broadcast radio in 1976 while in secondary school in Melbourne. He and several friends started an amateur radio club and had their own broadcast and amateur radio station. Since then, radio has been part of Mr Onley’s daily life, and he shares his passion for it via blogs and photos.

When the BSN parent approached Mr Onley to share that she had read about ARISS, a volunteer group working with NASA that chose a limited number of schools (following an application process) each year to set up contact with the International Space Station, he was delighted with the possibility.

“I went to chat to Barbara [van Duijne, a Year 6 teacher] about this and a plan was hatched. It remains one of the best moments I have experienced in my hobby!”

The collaboration between Dave, the teachers and staff at JSL, the BSN parent community and the ARISS team led to an unforgettable moment for the whole community. It also highlights what sets the British School community apart: the willingness to go above and beyond for the benefit of the students.

The process was a long one, but it provided us all with opportunities to meet new people from our community and further afield. The ARISS team provided so much expertise and support from start to finish to help make it possible.

Barbara van DuijneBSN JSL Teacher
Elizabeth de Libero

Elizabeth de Libero

Elizabeth is the Digital Marketing Coordinator and Strategy Lead at The British School in The Netherlands. After living and working in the United States and Italy, she now calls The Hague home. She brings her experience in public relations and brand management to create multi-channel marketing strategies and compelling content. Elizabeth is an avid reader and loves travelling, skiing and spending time with her family and Cockapoo, Cash.

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