Log in Subscribe

Cumberland County student experiments headed to outer space

Posted

Three teams of Cumberland County Schools students will see their STEM experiments headed to outer space after securing spots during a STARward STEM Expo on Tuesday.

During the expo, which was held at Douglas Byrd High School, 17 teams of students competed for one of three spots to see their STEM experiments launched to the International Space Station, the school system said in a release. 

“Engaging learning experiences such as STARward STEM are preparing our students to be future leaders, inventors and responsible citizens,” Superintendent Marvin Connelly Jr. said in the release.

Former astronaut Tony Antonelli was the keynote speaker. Antonelli graduated from Douglas Byrd High School in 1985 and served in the Navy before serving as pilot on the STS-119 and STS-132 missions to the International Space Station. 

“There are boys and girls growing up all around the world that are being told what they can’t do and I’m not going to even try to imagine what’s possible or not possible for these students,” Antonelli said. “Be kind and be bold.”

The winners of the final competition in three categories were:

Secondary School Category

Project name: “The Impact of Perchlorates on Aerospace Metal T-73 in Microgravity”

Douglas Byrd High School: 11th- and 12th-grade team

Teacher: Denise Renfro

Elementary School Category

Project name: “Sage”

Cumberland Road Elementary School: Second-grade team

Teacher: Andrea Hildel-Reyes

Overall At-Large Category

Project name: “Turmeric in Space”

Mary McArthur Elementary School: Fourth-grade team

Teachers: April Braddy and Theresa Pinheiro

The winning teams received medals and certificates. The teams will work with project partner DreamUp to package their experiments for launch aboard SpaceX CRS-26. They also will travel to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to watch the launch this fall, the school system said.

Robert Van Geons, president and CEO of the Fayetteville Cumberland County Economic Development Corp., and Eric Johnson, president of the Fayetteville Area Plant Managers Association, each presented checks for $1,000 to Connelly to support the trip, the release said.

“I want these students to be inspired by the possibility of the unknown,’’ said Laurie Baker, RTI International’s director of the Center for Education Services. RTI is one of the project partners. “I want to see these families and teachers become STEM evangelists and see that STEM is for everyone.”

All of the finalists’ experiments were on display during the expo.

The second-place teams and Jr. Astronaut Design Challenge winners were also recognized. They were:

Main Design Challenge Runners-Up

Secondary School Category - Second-Place

Project name: “Fungi Kingdom, White Mushrooms in Space”

Douglas Byrd High School: Ninth-grade team

Teacher: Jennifer Ramirez

Elementary School Category - Second-Place

Project name: “Growing Corn in Space”

Mary McArthur Elementary School: Fourth-grade team

Teachers: Chantel Henry and NeKeisha Mitchell-Williams

Overall At-Large Category - Second-Place

Project name: “Team Sprout”

Ireland Drive Middle School: Sixth-grade team

Teacher: Sarah Atkins

The three second-place teams received medals and certificates.

Jr. Astronaut Design Challenge Winners:

First-Place:

Project name: “St. John’s Wort”

Cumberland Mills Elementary School: Second-grade team

Teacher: Barbara Cascasan

Second-Place:

Project name: “Sugar Baby Watermelon”

Cumberland Mills Elementary School: Second-grade team

Teacher: Barbara Cascasan

The Jr. Astronaut Challenge winning teams received medals, certificates and gift bags. Their teachers also received a $100 gift card for a class celebration, the release said.

 

Cumberland County Schools, International Space Station, STEM experiments