Students from Bremen, Germany go from Kenai to Mars

Posted: Wednesday, March 19, 2008


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  Nora Bertelsmann of OeKumenisches Gymnasium school in Bremen Germany participates in mission to Mars at the Challenger Learning Center.

OeKumenisches Gymnasium students from Bremen, Germany and Dimond High in Anchorage joined for a mission to Mars last week at the Challenger Learning Center in Kenai.

This is the second exchange Dimond High School in Anchorage has had with the Oekumenisches Gymnasium school in Bremen, Germany according to Dean Ball, foreign language teacher at Dimond High, “This year we have 11 students from Germany with us, 8 girls and 3 boys who are visiting us along with their teacher Carola Bolte for 3 weeks and we have been doing our best to show them Alaska and this week being our spring break we took them to Mars via the Challenger Learning Center of Alaska and were also able to spend the night here at the Center and show them much of the Peninsula as well,” Ball told the Dispatch.

Ball attended the Goethe Institute in Germany several years ago and was introduced through his host family to teachers at the Oekumenisches Gymnasium in Bremen, “We have established a wonderful opportunity for them to come visit the last frontier while we have the opportunity to visit Germany, half of my level 3 German class will be spending a month there visiting the country and sharpening their language skills in the process while experiencing the German culture,” explained Ball.


Nora Bertelsmann of OeKumenisches Gymnasium school in Bremen Germany participates in mission to Mars at the Challenger Learning Center.

“This has been a truly brilliant experience,” said Carola Bolte, “You have a mental picture of what Alaska is like but when you are here it is totally different and we have thoroughly enjoyed it. It has been far greater than we imagined, the people are very friendly and the nature is absolutely breathtaking. When visiting the States Alaska may not be the first place you think of, but when I told the students we were coming to Alaska they were very excited because they really don’t have the opportunity to come here privately and their parents are all very envious for their children to have such a great journey to Alaska.”

Challenger Learning Center executive director Larry Porter was very pleased that the exchange group included the Center as part of their itinerary, “This is the broad based use we have envisioned for the Center for a long time and in the future we may even be able to use our technology for teaching conversational English and building cultural bridges between nations,” said Porter.

One of the exchange students Nora Bertelsmann commented, “The mission to Mars was very interesting seeing why NASA is choosing that planet for exploration as well seeing how people of different nations and cultures can really work together as a team,” said Bertelsmann who has been studying English since the third grade. Bertelsmann added the main difference she has observed between the Alaskan and German school systems is that in Germany the students have a home room and the teachers move from class to class and here it’s the other way around. Dimond High student Peter Bentley is looking forward to visiting Germany and said he totally enjoyed the mission even though they had some difficulties working together in the beginning, “I felt kind of uncoordinated in the beginning but we got the job done and everyone survived so it worked out okay,” said Bentley. Moritz Kanemeier of Germany found the experience interesting and the weather a little colder than he had anticipated. After overnighting at the Center the group continued their tour of the Peninsula and returned to Anchorage.

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