Emily Dickinson class names NASA spacecraft

Nina DiMauro's fourth-grade Emily Dickinson Elementary School class holds up signs reading "Ebb" and "Flow," the two names they selected for twin NASA spacecraft that are currently in orbit, Tuesday in front of NASA TV cameras. The winning names were selected as part of a nation-wide school contest.

Fourth-graders in teacher Nina DiMauro’s class cheered and shouted out the spelling of “Ebb and Flow” when NASA officials announced Tuesday that the class had won a national contest to name two satellites orbiting the moon.

The Emily Dickinson School students submitted the winning entry, beating nearly 900 classes in 45 states.

DiMauro’s class was featured by NASA during a live video-link press conference from Washington, D.C. Kids then got to talk by phone with Sally Ride, the first American woman in space.

The Bozeman students will also be the first in the nation who get to choose where the satellites will aim a MoonKAM camera to take photographs, starting in March.

“We’re so thrilled our names were chosen,” DiMauro told the NASA officials, while her students held up big letters spelling out Ebb and Flow.

Ten-year-old Chandler Foust said students came up with the names Ebb and Flow because they wanted names that have something to do with the moon, and the moon’s gravity makes ocean tides ebb and flow. Students found out Tuesday morning they had won.

“I was really excited,” Chandler said.

“I think it’s fun we get to be part of this amazing mission,” said Kennedy Stock, 9.

“Oh my gosh, we’re the first kids who get to use the MoonKAM,” said Megan Bittner, 10.

The class won largely because of its strong essay, said Maria Zuber of MIT, principal investigator on the project.

“Sally and I were extremely persuaded,” Zuber said, by the students’ sophisticated thinking about gravity.

The two satellites, formerly called GRAIL A and B, went into orbit around the moon on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Their job is to orbit the moon from pole to pole, map it, measure its gravitational field and help determine what’s below the surface. Each satellite carries a small camera, and already more than 2,000 classes have signed up to select areas to be targeted for photos.

Given the chance to interview Ride, one boy asked if the MoonKAM would show pictures when Ebb and Flow finish the mission and go crashing into the moon. Ride wasn’t sure but agreed, “it would be a cool thing, to see the moon get closer and closer.”

Ride recalled her two space flights, from the “really loud and bumpy and exciting” launch and the rockets’ “unbelievable feeling of power,” to being weightless. Imagine, she said, what it would be like to float above your desks and do 15 somersaults.

“I’m never going to forget it, and I hope you get to experience it too,” Ride said.

Gail Schontzler can be reached at gails@dailychronicle.com or 582-2633.

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