CLARKSVILLE, Md. (WUSA)-- Connecting with the International Space Station is not a lofty dream for students at River Hill High School; it's a reality.

Ms. Cotney's computer programming class placed 4th in the world in the Spheres competition, which sponsored by NASA and MIT.

Students wrote a code in the C programming language to power a satellite in outer space. The small orb floats in the air on the International Space Station and competes with another orb which is programmed by a competing school.

Their mentor for the project was none other than legendary astronaut Dr. John M. Grunsfeld.

Dr. Grunsfeld has logged 58 hours in space and was responsible for fixing the Hubble Space Telescope on some of his missions. Dr. John M. Grunsfeld was named Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. in January 2012. He says the most valuable lesson student learn in the Spheres competition is "systems engineering" --breaking a large task in to small pieces and having all of the small teams come back together to combine their work into one solution.

Students head to MIT in Cambridge Massachusetts the last week of January to see if they can be crowned champion of this year "Spheres" competition.