Youngsters impress NASA and TI by offering support to Mars mission
The mISSion imaginaTIon design challenge from Texas Instruments has been won by five seventh graders from the Hyde Park Middle School in Las Vegas, Nevada. The national competition asked students from across the country to propose solutions to challenges astronauts would face on a journey to Mars.
The questions were based on the challenges International Space Station (ISS) commander Scott Kelly and cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko encountered in the first year long mission aboard the ISS. The problems ranged from what to eat in space for optimal strength and nutrition, to how to detect and prevent potential collisions with orbital debris. The winning team of students proposed a vertical garden to capitalise on limited space to feed the astronauts and developed intricate plans for reinforcing the spacecraft’s outer hull to protect against space debris.
“Competitions like this excite and capture the imagination of students,” said Camille Alleyne, Associate ISS Program Scientist for education and communication with NASA. “The challenge also provides students an opportunity to think critically about their natural world, engaging them more effectively in their studies of science, maths, technology and engineering (STEM) and preparing them for being a part of the future STEM workforce.”
Robin Hill, the students’ teacher, said he didn’t even know his students were entering the contest until they asked for help submitting their project on the deadline day. “I was flabbergasted when I found out they won,” he said. “I feel like the luckiest teacher in the world to get to work with such smart, curious and driven students every day.”
As a prize, winning team members, Subhan Wade, Caitlyn Coloma, Jaiden Reddy, Isha Shah and Nicholas Ho received assorted space goodies and their choice of either a TI-Nspire CX or TI-84 Plus CE graphing calculator and software. The team will also have the opportunity to chat with a NASA astronaut about their wining submission.
“At TI, we are constantly looking to create opportunities for students to fall in love with STEM subjects,” said Peter Balyta, President of TI Education Technology. “Our world needs more problem solvers and innovators and we believe that STEM education holds the key to a brighter future.”