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Poinciana Elementary students are participants of NASA’s Cubes in Space

Everyone, red state, blue state, everyone supports space exploration.  --Bill Nye
Everyone, red state, blue state, everyone supports space exploration. --Bill Nye

Does anyone recognize, realize and acknowledge the pure fact that from 1946, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) had been experimenting with rocket planes such as the supersonic Bell X-1. In the early 1950s, there was challenge to launch an artificial satellite for the International Geophysical Year (1957–58). An effort for this was the American Project Vanguard. After the Soviet launch of the world's first artificial satellite (Sputnik 1) on October 4, 1957, the attention of the United States turned toward its own fledgling space efforts.

Further (see NASA ( From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia), the U.S. Congress, alarmed by the perceived threat to national security and technological leadership (known as the "Sputnik crisis"), urged immediate and swift action; President Dwight D. Eisenhower and his advisers counseled more deliberate measures. This led to an agreement that a new federal agency mainly based on NACA was needed to conduct all non-military activity in space. The Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) was created in February 1958 to develop space technology for military application.

On July 29, 1958, Eisenhower signed the National Aeronautics and Space Act, establishing NASA. When it began operations on October 1, 1958, NASA absorbed the 46-year-old NACA intact. So much has happened and even more has stop happening as far as to NASA today being financially capable to participate in the ongoing quest into the universe(s) that superlative intelligence overwhelming suggest with track records as evidence. The American genius of space and space exploration spored through NASA is still alive. The following information confirms the work that continues to prevail through . . . “Education, the torch (when continually passed on) that lights, enlightens and without a doubt is brightening the future”. NASA is still alive and well with our teachers and children and no doubt will rise up again by the will of the people and those that foresee the importance of now and the future in space exploration.

Twenty-two fifth grade students from Poinciana Elementary STEM Magnet School are putting the final touches on some physically small experiments based on their own big questions. Mrs. Katey Appelbaum’s class wrote six proposals for experiments to NASA’s “Cubes in Space” program this spring, and all six were accepted to be flown into space. One significant obstacle – the experiments had to fit into plastic cubes only 4cm X 4cm X 4cm in size.

The experiments are scheduled to liftoff from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia early in the morning of June 24th. The flight will be a relatively short, suborbital route up to 250KM (about 150 miles) but will expose the students’ experiments to the vacuum and temperatures of space outside of the Earth’s atmosphere. Without the atmosphere’s protections, the experiments will be exposed to increased solar radiation and cosmic rays. The questions students are attempting to answer all focus on how exposure to this environment will affect everyday things. They are sending up seeds, compasses, algae, popcorn, and even a tiny Arduino computer.

Upon their return to Earth, the experiments will be shipped back to Poinciana for analysis. A group of 5th graders will compare the samples sent into space with identical samples left behind on Earth. They will plant the seeds, pop the popcorn, inspect the algae, and test the compasses and computers and check to see if there are any differences between the items that went to space and those that stayed behind. The results will be published online for the current 5th graders to check out next school year.

Kris Swanson, Poinciana Planetarium Resource Teacher, helped Mrs. Appelbaum’s students write the proposals, and is coordinating the design and construction of the experiments to NASA’s specifications. According to Mr. Swanson, “This is the best way to engage kids in STEM education. Instead of assigning textbooks and worksheets to them, challenge students to ask and research their own questions and then to design a way to answer them. All Mrs. Applebaum and I did was giving them an opportunity to investigate something interesting and support them when needed. They drove their own learning.”

Cubes in Space is a no-cost global design competition for students to develop STEM-based experiments for launch into space. The Cubes in Space program is a partnership between Rubik Learning Initiative, idoodlesoftware Inc., the Colorado Space Grant's RockSat-C program and supported by the Sounding Rocket Program Office at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility.

Goals of Cubes in Space: We believe the integration of language and arts into traditional STEM education strategies is critical for a well-rounded education. Therefore our program will be STEAM based - reflecting the interconnections between science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics.

REF: SDPBC (Press Release) Public Affairs Office, May 2014



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