Montana, Wyoming high school students hopeful their idea will launch into space
Montana and Wyoming high school students were in Billings this week pitching projects they hope will make it into space.
Billings sophomore Jackson Bergeron and his partner, junior Ahmed Bahjat, are one of 27 teams participating in the NASA Hunch Design and Prototyping Critical Design Review. It’s a big title that results in an even bigger mission: the chance to travel to the Houston Space Center to present their projects to astronauts and engineers.
“Our project is an insect nano-lab, which this virtually is a space for insects to be able to be grown to become a food source up at the space station,” Jackson explained.
Educator Florence Gold is the western coordinator for the HUNCH program – close to 300 schools participate nationwide. She helps students choose projects from a list provided by NASA of things they actually need in space. She says last year it was a tape dispenser.
“That is as light as can be, as compact as it can be, and no sharp edges on top of it. So, they did that,” Gold said. “This year we sent tape dispensers up to the Space Station and the astronauts liked it so much they’re asking for more tape dispensers.”
Jackson and Ahmed began last year designing the compartments for their insect farming in space project. Ahmed says it’s been a great experience.
“Just doing this class and taking this class, you can really see how interesting it is to be an engineer,” he said. "Like how you start from a simple design and work your way up as you innovate, as you experiment, as you learn from your mistakes.”
Students will learn in about two weeks if their projects move on to the next step.