WASHINGTON — Approximately 500 middle school students and teachers at the Pinellas County Science Center in St. Petersburg, Fla., will have an out-of-this-world phone conversation with NASA astronauts aboard the International Space Station.

Flight Engineers Doug Wheelock, Tracy Caldwell Dyson, and Shannon Walker will make the long-distance phone call on Thursday, Sept. 9, from 11:45 a.m. to 12:05 p.m. EDT.

Students have prepared for the downlink by using data from NASA’s satellite network to complete lessons in robotics and marine science. NASA astronaut Robert Springer will be on hand at the center to speak with the students and answer questions. NASA education staffers also will conduct experiments with the students.

The downlink is one in a series with educational organizations in the U.S. and abroad to improve teaching and learning in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. It is an integral component of Teaching From Space, a NASA Education Office program. It promotes learning opportunities and builds partnerships with the education community using the unique environment of human spaceflight.

The center is celebrating its 50th year as a non-profit educational facility with programs focused on science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The center houses an observatory, planetarium, marine touch tank, weather station, wetlands and labs for cyber security, forensics, chemistry, robotics, energy, petrology and computers.

NASA Television will air video from the station during the event. For NASA TV downlink, schedule and streaming video information, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/ntv

For information about NASA’s education programs, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/education

For information about the International Space Station, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/station