DC Students Send Projects to Space

DC Students Send Projects to Space

MIAMISBURG, Ohio (November 18, 2020) – Dayton Christian School is the first school in Ohio to offer Quest for Space, a program that allows students to code a project in their classroom and then test it on the International Space Station (ISS).

Junior high students in DC’s semester-long STEAM class are nearing the end of their participation in the Level 2 Apprentice portion of Quest for Space, which is a collaboration with NASA, said Dana Pethtel, who leads the STEAM instruction at DC.

The 23 students in Grades 7-8 began the school year by learning the foundational principles about the solar system, rocketry, and electricity, and then were challenged to use the rest of the semester to answer one important question: “Why is it important for astronauts and engineers to be concerned with heat when attempting space travel?”

To answer that question, students developed technical skills in electrical, mechanical, and software engineering in order to run automated experiments focusing on radiant, convective, and conductive heat on the ISS. 

Students also used Lego MindStorm coding to develop their experiments on a platform nearly identical to one on the ISS.  Their experiment codes will soon be sent to the ISS where astronauts will run it and provide feedback for improvement via video.

Students will take the suggestions given and decide how to make the experiment work better. Perfection is not expected the first time around, and the astronauts will keep the students working to improve, said Pethtel.

“This is a great program not only to teach science, but also to have students learn about problem solving, collaboration, learning to overcome setbacks, and perseverance,” Pethtel said. 

Pethtel launched the STEAM program at Dayton Christian when she introduced the school’s MakerSpace program to elementary students in 2019. Since then, the program – which teaches children about science, technology, engineering, arts and math – has been expanded up through junior high to meet student demand.

Dayton Christian built the program into its weekly rotation of specials for students knowing that exposure to such hands on instruction can be key to finding their life calling.

“Whereas some schools keep STEAM or Lego Robotics for students with a certain grade point average, we provide access to this incredibly important tool to all students,” Pethtel said. “You never know when an inner engineer may be waiting to be discovered.”