Students in Corcoran compete to send science projects to space

Tuesday, October 17, 2017
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Dave Whitmore, who is the principal, said this is a huge deal for his students especially since only 31 communities were chosen.

CORCORAN, Calif. (KFSN) -- Students, teachers, and staff at John Muir Middle School held a rally on Friday to celebrate their accomplishment of being chosen to send one science experiment to space on Mission 12 in 2018.

It is through the "Student Spaceflight Experiments Program," which is designed to inspire and engage the next generation of scientists and engineers.

Dave Whitmore, who is the principal, said this is a huge deal for his students especially since only 31 communities were chosen.

"We are excited," he said. "It's history in the making because it is a chance for a student in the Central Valley to have an experiment done in space."

This was a long lengthy process with application after application for them to get the chance to send a project to space.

"We had to prove our students and faculty can carry this off and we know that they can," Whitmore explained.

"Our students have been working really hard learning about micro-gravity experiments, independent, dependent variables," he said. "What they are doing now is that they are getting ready to launch and writing a proposal. This isn't talking about science. This isn't 'we're looking at science', this isn't starting to do science. They are doing science. They are the scientists".

All 730 students will be taking part in this program, vying for their project to make it to space. He added there are so many elements that this is really a community project.

"We know they can accomplish great things," he said with a smile on his face.

They will have around 130 projects proposals and three will be sent to Johnson's Space Center and from then one will be chosen.

"One of our groups will design an experiment that is going to be launched into space via the International Space Station, launched onto their, and performed by an astronaut," he explained. "While our students perform that same experiment here on earth".

The students are already hard at work getting their proposals ready.

"My team and I are doing crystals to see if they take longer or faster to grow in space than here on here, " said 11-year-old Samuel Alvarado.

He is excited about the opportunity.

"It's pretty awesome they chose us (their school)," Alvarado mentioned.

Joshua Anguiano, 11, agreed that this is such a great opportunity.

"Well what's so exciting they don't choose like special students, they can choose anybody in the school," Anguiano said.

Anguiano and his team are focusing on cottonseeds to see how they grow in space.

This project igniting Anguiano's new found love for space.

Whitmore added most of the other schools involved in this program are STEM academies and private schools and feels proud his school was chosen to participate.

To celebrate their accomplishment they held a rally on Friday and Skyped Dr. Jeff Goldstein who is the director of the program. He spoke with the students about his love for space, projects he's worked on with NASA, as well as answered some of their questions.

Students also competed to send a Mission Patch along with the one project that will be sent to space. They will be sending two patches one from for the elementary students and one for the middle school students.

Their project proposals are due in the next few weeks for review before being sent off to the scientists to chose one.