News Article
Students and teachers invited to participate in the Microgravity University for Educators Challenge

Mankato Area Public Schools' students Morgan Brooks, Ben Koser, Matt Preis and Sam Preis, and teachers Emily Dauk and Eric Koser were selected to visit NASA Johnson Space Center and to test student-designed, autonomous, orbital insertion devices in a simulated microgravity environment. Through a competitive process, teams of students and educators submitted proposals to design orbital insertion devices and test them at Johnson Space Center’s unique astronaut training facilities. The challenge involves designing solutions to technical problems, or improvements to existing solutions, identified by NASA scientists and engineers who use simulated microgravity environments in their work. All teams have been assigned a NASA engineer or scientist to guide them through the Engineering Design Process before arriving.

The opportunity includes touring the NASA Johnson Space Center facility and testing a student-derived Satellite Launching Experimental Device (SLED) on the Precision Air Bearing Floor (PABF). The PABF is located in the Space Vehicle Mock-up Facility and is used for astronaut training and engineering testing.

The team was presented a box of items by NASA and challenged to create its SLED from these materials. They've created an elastic-powered launch mechanism that is triggered by an accelerometer. Students have programmed the controller to release a trigger with a motor to launch their ‘puck’ at a target. Onsite at NASA, the team will have the opportunity to engage with other teams from around the country. This project is about using science and engineering to design and build a solution to a practical problem.

Follow the team on social media by searching for @KatoLaunchSquad on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, or on their blog.