Chris Hadfield is the Canadian astronaut living and working on – and commanding – the International Space Station. He’s the first astronaut to bring the “space experience” to Earthlings in the form of regular tweets, photos, Facebook posts, videos and even songs.
Hadfield lets us know what experiments he’s working on, what the Earth looks like from his vantage point and what it’s like to live in space.
Hadfield has three children, Kyle (30), Evan (27) and Kristin (26).
Evan Hadfield lives in Darmstadt, Germany. He has been helping his father communicate with Earth, via Twitter and other social media websites such as Facebook, tumblr and Soundcloud.
Sending messages and going through the thousands of messages that people around the world send to Commander Hadfield every day is very time-consuming.
Evan does some of the tasks that take the most time, so his father can concentrate on doing his work and spending as little time as possible sending messages. Evan also makes sure that his dad knows what’s been happening on Earth, since he doesn’t have a lot of time to read the news. Sometimes, for instance, Evan will tell his dad when a volcano has just erupted so his father can take a photo of it from space and post it on Twitter.
Evan answered our questions via email.
TKN: Who thought of the plan to use social media to communicate while your dad was in space?
Evan: The plan for using social media was developed by the whole family at the dinner table, in discussion. But I am the one who undertook setting it up and taking care of it.
TKN: Is it true that you taught your dad how to use Twitter?
Evan: It isn’t so much teaching him how to use it, as teaching him how to use it properly. And the lessons continue even today. There is a difference between tweeting and tweeting in a way that people can respond to and enjoy properly. I don’t think that figuring out Twitter would have been hard for him, but getting past the basics takes constant work. I’m not expert, and we both learn as we go.
TKN: What social media tasks do you do, and which ones does your father do?
Evan: Dad posts and responds. Everything else is up to me. I help him plan, I read the responses, find questions, move items to all the other sites (Facebook, Google+, etc.) as well as a wide variety of other things. I try to keep him up to date on the news, future events, and things to post. I make it so that he can simply float up to the computer and post without wasting any of his valuable time.
TKN: Where are the places we can get information about your dad’s activities?
Evan: Twitter is the only one he posts to directly. All posts are then immediately moved by me (so long as I am online) to:
In a queue for tumblr (http://www.tumblr.com/blog/colchrishadfield).
For his music, we post to Soundcloud (https://soundcloud.com/colchrishadfield/).
[Editor's note: the above websites are not specifically kid-friendly and may include unsuitable comments posted by other users.]
TKN: Your dad transmits pictures of Earth, he writes and records songs in space, he does press conferences – the other day he even tutored a university student who was working on an assignment. Is there anything your dad can’t do? What’s it like having a father like that?
Evan: He’s great, and very personable. He works extremely long hours so that others can have a chance to experience as much as possible from what life is like in space. The response has been enormous and we are extremely grateful for it.
TKN: What’s next?
Evan: You’ll see.
By Kathleen Tilly
Chris Hadfield is not the first astronaut to live on the International Space Station, but he may be the first one you’ve heard about. How do you think his use of social media – websites like Twitter and Facebook – have affected his popularity and people’s understanding of space travel?
Has social media changed how you receive and understand information? Do you think it has changed how people learn – why or why not?
Reading Prompt: Elements of Style
Evan says “there is a difference between tweeting and tweeting in a way that people can respond to.” What do you think he means by this?
Write a tweet about one part of your day. Then rewrite the tweet “in a way people can respond to.” What are the differences between the two tweets? How did you change the first tweet to make it more engaging for readers?
Identify some elements of style, including voice, word choice, and different types of sentences, and explain how they help readers understand texts (OME, Reading: 2.4).
Identify various elements of style – including word choice and the use of similes, personification, comparative adjectives, and sentences of different types, lengths, and structures – and explain how they help communicate meaning (OME, Reading: 2.4).
Identify various elements of style – including foreshadowing, metaphor, and symbolism – and explain how they help communicate meaning and enhance the effectiveness of texts (OME, Reading: 2.4).
Grammar Feature: Italics and Colons in an Interview
This starts out as an ordinary news article, but then it changes to an interview. The author uses both italics and colons (:) throughout the interview. Explain how the author’s use of italics, colons and bold helps you to read and understand the article.