MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — While a lot of high school juniors and seniors are worried about finding a prom date, 13 Minnehaha Academy students are on a different mission: Sending a NASA-approved experiment to space.
“What high school student gets to send an experiment to outer space?” Minnehaha Academy senior Viola Holman said.
They’re part of the International Space Station Team of Students and have been working all year on a project, which they will send to NASA to launch into space.
“We’re testing the impact of microgravity on fluid flow,” senior Eathan Wagner said. “It’ll be exciting to see the data results.”
The experiment is called the “Coalescence of Water-Based Latex Polymers,” which, simply put, is testing how paint dries on the International Space Station compared to Earth. Visit NASA’s website for more detail on the experiment.
On Tuesday, they got the help of an astronaut.
“It’s pretty amazing to see what they’ve accomplished,” NASA astronaut Tom Marshburn said.
Marshburn spent the day at Minnehaha Academy, talking with students about his missions in space, signing autographs and teaching a physics class. He was on the space mission last year that launched the ISS student team’s first project. When he got back to earth, he wanted to meet the young engineers.
“They’ve really thought through this. It’s a professional operation here,” he said. “It’s very impressive.”
“To have an actual astronaut to come into our school and talk to us about how he’s applied his engineering skills throughout his life, it’s just such a great experience for us,” Holman said.
The students asked everything from scientific questions to finding out his favorite space meal — fiesta chicken.
“Tortillas are very popular in space because you can throw them, they have good aerodynamic qualities,” Marshburn said, laughing.
But even with the excitement of the space mission aside, the students say they’re learning something bigger.
“Getting to work as a team and figuring out when to lead and follow are things you can apply to college and a job,” Holman said.
“We really need this kind of brilliance, this kind of knowledge and forward thinking,” Marshburn said.