Student projects headed to space with NASA

Seventh grade classmates Emerson Dycus and Sarah McAllister have three experiments heading into space on a NASA rocket in June 2015.
Seventh grade classmates Emerson Dycus and Sarah McAllister have three experiments heading into space on a NASA rocket in June 2015.

HOWARD – Two local students' experiments are bound for outer space.

Their out-of-this-world work was chosen in an international, NASA-sponsored contest.

“Space and science have always just mesmerized me. When you look up at the sky, there are planets, there are galaxies, and it's kind of endless up there,” said Emerson Dycus, a seventh grade student.

And soon there will be three more things orbiting in space, from St. John the Baptist school right here in Howard.

“I am a big fan of like NASA and science and all that,” said Dycus. “And I went on NASA's web site and saw on their student page that there was a contest that if you give an experiment to them they would fly it up into space if it was good enough.”

Dycus and her classmate Sarah McAllister started designing their three experiments in January.

“We are going to see if gravity will affect the way microbacteria will multiply,” McAllister said, explaining the first experiment, using a swab of bacteria from a human mouth in a petri dish.

“We hope the heat and the friction and all that good energy that is produced by the rocket will hopefully be absorbed by the copper and will light up the light bulb. And dark room paper changes color when the light hits it, so that's how we're going to know when it comes back to earth if the light bulb lit up in space,” said Dycus, describing the second experiment.

All deal with gravity, and how things change outside of Earth's orbit.

“When it's in space it's suspended in the air by the magnet, so that the rocket launch and microgravity and all those factors, hopefully it will break the magnetism and the chain will drop and stick to the side of the cube,” said Dycus, demonstrating the third experiment with a magnet and chain.

All three experiments were chosen by NASA through the Cubes in Space program. The experiments fit into small, plastic cubes. Dycus and McAllister beat out thousands of students internationally for one of 80 spots.

“On June 25th, the rocket will fly,” said McAllister. “And then in late August, we'll get the cubes back.”

The students say they hope their success in science will inspire others.

“Science is not just for guys,” said McAllister.

And their experiments have inspired them to reach for the stars in the future.

“I want to be an astrophysicist, because I really like space and science,” said Dycus.
The students say they plan on travelling to Virginia with their families to watch the NASA rocket launch next month.