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News Pella HS Students Attend NASA Competition

Published on March 29, 2017

This year four students from Pella High School got the opportunity to participate in NASA’s Space Settlement Design Competition (SSDC).  PHS students traveled to the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, where they joined approximately 200 other students from NW Iowa and Texas for the competition.  Zion Miller, Elizabeth Sales, Lindsey Hood, and Sarah VanNorden were the Pella HS participants.  

The SSDC is designed to provide students with experiences similar to those encountered by real engineers.  The competition teaches students to communicate, cope with stress, solve problems, work as a team, manage time, organize a monumental task, apply STEM skills, ask questions, assess possible solutions, evaluate economic costs, and evaluate quality of life on the settlement.  Students have 21 hours to complete a plan with a limit of 50 pages and 35 minutes to present their proposal.  Their plans are presented to Aerospace Engineers who ask the students tough questions when the presentation is over.  Students were placed in four teams (engineering companies) and given a request for proposal from the futuristic Foundation Society.  The future date invites students to think outside of the box about the technologies that could exist.  The task this year was to design a mobile surface base on the planet Mercury.  The design of the base needs to be very large to accommodate the thousands of inhabitants living there.  The mission of base will be planetary exploration, mining, and materials manufacturing and processing for export to other parts of the solar system. The mobile base will operate by moving at a velocity to always stay near a modest temperature on Mercury.  

As always, the decision for a winning team was difficult due to the exceptional proposals.  Sarah VanNorden was a member of the team that won the competition.  Sarah was selected by her team to participate in the international competition at the Kennedy Space Station in Florida in July.

— Ms Yoder

Front Row from left to right Lindsey Hood (1st year participant), Zion Miller (2nd year participant), and Norman Chaffee (NASA Engineer) Second Row From left to right Jordan Menning (NW IA AEA director), Sarah VanNorden (1st year participant on winning team), Elizabeth Sales (1st year participant), and Erin Yoder (Science Teacher PHS)