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Astronaut gives Idaho kids lesson from space

NASA teacher Barbara Morgan makes a call from the International Space Station.

On Tuesday, NASA astronaut Barbara Morgan made a call from the International Space Station to a group of science students in Idaho, giving them a 20-minute lesson on life in space from 200 miles above Earth.

The call was a reminder of the last teacher to attempt an orbital trip nearly 20 years ago, as The New York Times points out here (subscription required). In 1986, Morgan was the backup "education astronaut" for Christa McAuliffe, the teacher who was killed when the shuttle Challenger broke up 73 seconds into the flight.

Morgan, who was formerly a teacher at McCall-Donnelly Elementary School in McCall, Idaho, answered questioned from 18 students who were gathered at the Discovery Center of Idaho. She told them about how stars didn't twinkle from the space station and how being a teacher and an astronaut aren't such different professions, according to the Times article. "We explore, we discover and we share," she said.

One of seven crew members on the space shuttle Endeavour, Morgan handles the shuttle's robotic arm and other logistics on board. She will host two more talks from the space station with students in Virginia and Massachusetts.