RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — The International Space Station is more than 250 miles above Earth and its from there that astronauts spoke to students in Raleigh.

Packed into an auditorium, the Brentwood Magnet Elementary School of Engineering student body voiced pressing questions into space.

Fourth-grader Drew Deunn-ell learned a lot from the questions answered by astronaut Koichi Wakata.

“What they eat and how they stay alive up there. I didn’t know how long they stay up there,” said Deunn-ell.

There’s a lot he didn’t know about space and NASA.

“There’s so many different careers. I thought it was only about astronaut career,” said Deunn-ell.

Fifth-grader Timothy Gaetz learned a lot about life in space for astronauts.

“You get to use robotics, and you do science experiments and you get to stay up there for about a year or so,” Gaetz said.

The curriculum at Brentwood this year is focused on space engineering.

“We’ve been doing challenges in the school related to space so building parade floats that are space related, doing straw rockets, we’re going to start working on some parachutes,” said magnet coordinator Kristen McBryde.

She said connecting with the International Space Station took about a year. The entire student body voted on the final questions to ask. They spoke with Wakata through amateur radio.

Brentwood was selected by Amateur Radio on the International Space Station as one of only nine schools in the country to participate in this year’s program. It’s the first elementary school in the Wake County Public School System to participate in this year’s program. 

“It’s really cool. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience because I learned only nine other schools in the world are doing this,” said Gaetz said.

McBryde hoped hearing from Wakata will show students problem solving skills in action.

“As an engineering magnet school, we are all about teaching our kids to solve problems and that is what astronauts do, that is what NASA does,” said McBryde.

Even for those not aiming for a career with NASA or in engineering, McBryde hopes that’s a skill students will take with them.

“Using our thinking like engineers, they can solve those problems no matter what field they go into,” said McBryde.