Arizona 4-H STEM YOUniversity led a 4-H Space Project that provided forty-eight middle and high school students with an experience of a lifetime to travel to Florida’s Kennedy Space Center, to attend the Higher Orbits “Go for Launch” three-day summer camp. The multi-state effort comprised four-states from the Universities of Florida, Illinois, Indiana, and Arizona, in partnership with Higher Orbits, and the International Space Station-National Laboratory (ISS-NL) Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS).
The Twelve Mission Commanders from each state were placed in teams of four (one member from each state). Team members met virtually before meeting in person in Florida and participated in learning space science in preparation for attending the summer camp.
During the camp, held in July 2022, team members collaborated through the engineering process to design and present a science experiment that could feasibly be flown to the International Space Station. The 4-H teams had to consider the effect of microgravity in their experiment design. Additionally, the teams’ experiment designs needed to fit in a box no larger than a rectangular tissue box and had to function autonomously. Sessions were led by Michelle Lucas, founder and CEO of Higher Orbits, and Atlantis Space Shuttle Astronaut, Jim Riley.
The winning team was “Team Space Goats” with Cove Searle representing AZ from Apache County. Their experiment, ‘Growing Spirulina in Space’ was launched aboard SpaceX CRS-27 on March 15, 2023.
As part of attending, youth were asked to teach a topic about space science in outreach sessions in their communities across the state reaching 799 youth. The Arizona team was led by Stacy DeVeau, 4-H Program Coordinator, Senior, Yavapai County and Deb Martinez, Club Leader, 4-H Discovery STEM Club, Maricopa County who met with youth throughout the project and traveled with them to Florida. Dr. Gerardo U. Lopez, Associate Specialist 4-H STEM, School of Animal & Comparative Biomedical Sciences, led the collaborative consortium and grant.
A special thank you to Deb Lester, AZ 4-H Youth Foundation Director, for the generous support which made this experience of a lifetime possible for the Mission Commanders and to ISS-NL and CASIS for the grant funding.