Penticton educator’s Reading From Space program lifts off

Among the more than two tons of supplies being delivered by the unmanned spacecraft was a small package of Canadian content.

Penticton's Patricia Tribe with one of the books by Jeffrey Bennett that is being used in the children's literacy program Story Time From Space.

Penticton's Patricia Tribe with one of the books by Jeffrey Bennett that is being used in the children's literacy program Story Time From Space.

There was a huge sigh of relief locally with the successful rendezvous of the SpaceX Dragon cargo ship and International Space Station (ISS) this week.

It came from Penticton educator Patricia Tribe.

Among the more than two tons of supplies being delivered by the unmanned spacecraft was a small package of Canadian content very dear to her heart.

Inside it were the nine replacement science experiments for those destroyed in the catastrophic loss of the original payload in June 2015 when the SpaceX CRS-7 rocket exploded just after take off from Cape Canaveral, Fla. (Read more here: Nasa rocket explodes)

That equipment, valued at $70,000, is designed to complement author Jeffrey Bennett’s science content for the Story Time From Space program developed by Tribe.

Readings and the experiments done by the ISS astronauts are being integrated into a curriculum and will be available to the educators and children on earth when the program is complete.

Tribe and veteran Canadian astronaut Bjarni Tryggvason designed the experiments and watched Monday’s early-morning launch together on Skype.

“The launch was intense and absolutely spectacular and once it got going, man it was beautiful,” said Tribe, the CEO of the non-profit Global Space Education Foundation which has partnered on the project with NASA and the Centre for the Advancement of Science in Space. “I didn’t hold my breath, I was really listening intently to what they were saying and watching the rocket.”

She added having seen about 10 launches in person has changed how she now views the lift offs.

“It’s very different watching it when you know the people on it or know the equipment on it,” she said. “You kind of have a vested interest, a sense of ownership.”

Tribe, the former Director of Education at the Space Centre Houston, began working on the concept about six years ago. (Read more on this here: Penticton woman’s space program)

Its initial beginnings were during the 2011 STS 133 mission which was the final flight of the Discovery shuttle.

Astronauts, including Tribe’s friend Alvin Drew, downloaded some of the material, video taped the readings and after the project literally took off.

Things were going along smoothly up until the 2015 disaster, which Tribe was worried could spell the end of the project.

“We were stunned when we lost our first science payload; that was a bad day, to say the least,” she said. “But our supporters saw the value in what we were trying to accomplish and dug deep to send us back up. We could not have rebuilt this amazing hardware without everyone’s support.”

For his part, Tryggvason, who joked he was initially “cornered” into working on the space-reading project, took this week’s launch in stride.

“I’m not surprised, I knew this day would come, I’ve been in the space game a long time, it’s just the nature of the beast it’s just very challenging,” said Tryggvason, 71, in a telephone interview from his home in London, Ont.

A payload specialist about the 1997 Discovery mission, Tryggvason believes the education system has taken a “nose dive” when it comes to math and science and this program is a way to reverse that.

“It’s going to produce real science for kids to see, explore, and compare to what happens on Earth, and it’s also sophisticated enough for high school and college students to use in higher level research projects,” he said. “The equipment we have built with our partners explores basic science concepts in the free-fall environment. There is a huge misconception of the way things work in space that there is something magic up there there’s a great deal of confusion and this will change that.”

The experiments explore the concepts of light, surface tension, pendulums, heat transfer, free fall, orbits, balance and buoyancy.

“All of which are basic science concepts educators teach children,” said Tribe. “Do they all work the same in the free fall environment of the space station compared to on earth? We will find out.”

Both she and Tryggvason credited the efforts of the University of Toronto, P&P Opitca, Bennett’s publisher Big Kid Science for assistance once again to make the project a reality. Tribe also thanked the many local people who donated to the GoFundMe campaign set up last year. With the experiments now in place, Tribe hopes the program will soon be completed and ready for use.

“Without much publicity we’ve had over 100,000 people on the website from all over the world, it’s pretty phenomenal,” she said. “I’m not surprised because everybody has loved the idea and the concept of having the astronauts reading with the kids and doing the science with the kids.”

She is planning a sneak preview of the program on Sept. 27 at the Okanagan Falls Regional Library, which will include an on-screen astronaut reading and live experiment.

For more on the program visit


Just Posted

New trial date set in Penticton for Thomas Kruger-Allen’s triple assault charges

May trial was delayed after Crown witnesses failed to show up

A for sale sign is shown in by new homes in Beckwith, Ont., just outside Ottawa, on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Thompson-Okanagan population grew despite COVID-19: report

The Chartered Professional Accountants of BC said there are 8,462 new residents in the region

Scales of Justice
Acquittal in Okanagan crash that killed vacationing dentist

Daerio Romeo, 29, was charged with dangerous driving causing death and bodily harm

Renderings of what the skating rink could look like beside City Hall between Martin and Main in downtown Penticton. (Activate Penticton image)
Penticton to get outdoor ice rink this winter

It’s hoped the rink will be ready to host 2022 BCHL’s 60th year celebration

The fate of Skaha Marina and its operations will be decided Saturday, June 19 on general election day. (File photo)
Penticton city hosted last forum before voters decide on fate of Skaha Marina

Residents share concerns about length of operations agreement, parking and control of park

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

Vernon-Monashee NDP MLA Harwinder Sandhu supported a motion in the B.C. legislature for Canada to create a national Indigenous History month Monday, June 13, 2021. (Contributed)
Canada needs a national Indigenous History Month, Vernon MLA agrees

Harwinder Sandhu supports motion to recognize June as month to advance reconciliation efforts with First Nations

Orange ribbons are tied to the fence outside Vernon’s Gateway Homeless Shelter on 33rd Street. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
POLL: Low-key Canada Day in the works for Vernon

Councillor calling for Indigenous recognition for 2022

A conceptual design of Vernon’s new Active Living Centre, which will go to referendum Oct. 15, 2022. (Rendering)
Active living centre 2022 referendum planned in Vernon

City hoping to get Coldstream and Areas B and C back on board

Closure of the 2900 block of 30th Avenue will allow restaurants and other businesses to extend their patios onto the street. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Green light given to downtown Vernon road closure

Single block of 30th Avenue to close over summer months to boost business

Graduating Grade 12 student Savannah Lamb has been awarded an approximate $40,000 scholarship from the Beedie Luminaries foundation. (Contributed)
Dedicated Salmon Arm student earns scholarship to pursue post-secondary education

Savannah Lamb is graduating from Salmon Arm Secondary with a $40,000 scholarship

A provided photo of the suspect. (Kelowna RCMP/Contributed)
Kelowna RCMP investigating after business robbed

An undisclosed amount of money and merchandise were taken from the business

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

Most Read