Buckeye High School class working with NASA to send project into stratosphere

One class over at Buckeye High School is giving students an opportunity of a lifetime to work in one of the most advanced fields in the workforce.
Published: Feb. 23, 2023 at 5:50 PM CST
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RAPIDES PARISH, La. (KALB) - Think back to when you were in high school. Perhaps your favorite class involved a trip to a history museum or maybe being able to dissect an animal in a biology course.

Well, one class at Buckeye High School is upping the way lesson plans are written by giving their students an opportunity of a lifetime.

In Mrs. Lacey Hoosier’s STEM class, the 12th-grade students experience what could be described as an episode of the “Magic School Bus.” There are even live snakes in the classroom! However, this year’s class is getting an out-of-this-world lesson.

Mrs. Hoosier heard about an opportunity from NASA as part of the NASA TechRise student challenge encouraging students to embrace their engineering side by designing, building and launching experiments into the stratosphere.

After racking their brains together, Mrs. Hoosier’s class submitted a plan that ultimately won the challenge. Buckeye was one of just 60 schools across the country and the only school in the state to be picked.

“I was very emotional about it,” said Emily Roche, a 12th grader in the class. “We were surprised. We didn’t think we would win because there were hundreds of applicants.”

As a reward, NASA sent the class the materials they needed to make their plan a reality. The students came up with the idea to create their own UV sensor that will be used to measure how UV rays change with cloud cover. The motivation behind this was to collect more data for cancer research.

“Some of their family members have been affected by skin cancer and the skin cancer rates have been sky high,” said Hoosier. “A lot of people don’t understand that when it’s cloudy, you still have UV rays and people don’t wear sunscreen when it’s cloudy.”

Hoosier said each student has their own role in the project, from researching on the computer to putting together the sensor. Each week, the class gets to talk with representatives from NASA to get feedback on their work.

Once the project is built, the sensor will be sent up in a high-altitude balloon that will travel into the stratosphere for four hours before returning to earth with the data.

“It’s very weird to think about that we are actually with NASA and talking to them,” said Hannah Morace, a 12th-grade student at Buckeye. “It’s people I never thought we would actually be talking to.”

This year-long lesson plan is due in May. The sensor will have a camera on board so Mrs. Hoosier’s class will be able to watch their project live as it will be sent up in the summer.

“NASA is forever going to be on their resume and application,” said Hoosier. “It’s been actually life-changing for most of the kids.”

Hoosier said NASA will send the data back to the students for them to review how effective their project worked on the balloon. The class plans to release the findings to the public and how it could help skin cancer research.

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