Hudson Middle School student scientists are in NASA’s sights againHudson Middle School science teacher Chris DeLeon likes to challenge his students both in and beyond the classes he teaches. Just like he did last year, he offered any of his eighth-grade students the opportunity to compete in several science challenges sponsored by NASA and other agencies.
By: Meg Heaton, Hudson Star-Observer
If it feels a little like déjà vu, it’s understandable. And before it is all finished it could even get better.
Hudson Middle School science teacher Chris DeLeon likes to challenge his students both in and beyond the classes he teaches. Just like he did last year, he offered any of his eighth-grade students the opportunity to compete in several science challenges sponsored by NASA and other agencies. That first call ended in a triumph last year when a team of girls took second place in the nation for their water filtration system after being grilled by a team of prestigious scientists via conference call.
This year’s participants included two teams, all girls, and their efforts were once again impressive. DeLeon also entered the school in two additional competitions including the NASA Explorer Schools National Students symposium and the Siemens “We Can Change the World Contest.”
But only one team can compete per school so an inside panel of judges made the decision. “Both teams turned in some very impressive work and the decision was difficult for the judges,” said DeLeon. “Everybody at the school is proud of both teams.”
The second team included Gabby Dachel, Molly Richardson, Kallie Benjamin and Lauren Barnes who developed a filtration system using deodorant to remove ammonia from water.
The challenge is similar to last year — come up with a way to manage and recycle wastewater. Members of this year’s team will present their water filter system that uses a series of filters utilizing sand, gravel and charcoal as well as an algae pond and light sources. The algae pond has the added advantage of creating a type of algae that can be harvested and used as food. The system designed by the students gets rid of ammonia and bacteria to return the water to a useable state.
The team says the filtration system not only has applications to places like the space station but could be used where there is a shortage of clean water like in some countries in Africa.
The five member team includes Julia Van Allan, Amy Larsen, Katelyn Asmus, Brianna Haag and Maeve Whalen. Their project has already won them a space at this year’s NASA Explorers’ School in May but only two team members can attend. Everybody’s names were put in a box. Whalen and Haag will be making the trip with DeLeon to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The team members are all very well versed on how and why their project is successful and found the process of working together both fun and challenging. The team spent an estimated 1,000 hours on the project outside of their regular class time. Larsen said it was hard to work together sometimes but it was worth the effort. Asmus said she first got involved because she felt the project would look good on a resume or transcript but she got caught up in the science pretty quickly. The entire team described their mutual experience as “cool and awesome.”
Still ahead are the challenge results and the Siemens competition. DeLeon received an e-mail from NASA on Friday saying that because of the chance of a government shutdown, they were going to reschedule the Waste Limitation Management and Recycling Design Challenge presentations for May 3.
For more information about these HMS science projects and the competitions, contact DeLeon at firstname.lastname@example.org.