A group of METSA (Math, Engineering, Technology and Science Academy) students in the Biotechnical course at R. L. Turner High School recently attended the NASA Hunch finals at the Johnson Space Center in Houston on April 19. As part of the NASA Hunch program, students build prototypes and develop solutions to problems faced in the NASA space stations.
Johanna Fraire, Denyse Silva and Daitan Vo worked in class to figure out a method to sterilize 3D-printed medical tools in space. Their project, “3D Printed Medical Tool Sterilization,” was one of 33 from across the country chosen for presentation at the final critical review.
“This was CFBISD’s first METSA team to get invited to the final critical design review in Houston,” said Yaritza Ortiz-Rivera, R. L. Turner High School science teacher and METSA instructor. “This is an experience like no other, a real-life opportunity with impact beyond the classroom in both the science world and the community.”
Throughout the year, students presented different stages of their project to panels of professionals and incorporated their feedback into their work. These presentations were used to determine which projects were moving forward and had the potential to solve the proposed problem.
Several METSA groups participated in the regional preliminary design review and moved on to the state critical design review. CFBISD’s group advanced even farther to participate in the national and final review, joining other selected students from 46 participating states.
At the final review, the students presented their solution to a pool of engineers, scientists and astronauts, and were advised to continue their project and perfect it for next year. They were awarded certificates and letters of recommendation for their work, and their signatures were stamped in a locker that will travel in the next space mission. The group has also been presented with an opportunity to have either their whole project, or part of their project fly into space for testing.
“We are extremely proud of the METSA students and their teacher, Mrs. Yaritza Ortiz-Rivera,” said Dr. Adam Grinage, Principal of R. L. Turner High School. “Our kids are going beyond just putting Turner on the map—they are putting Turner in outer space. How many people can say their names are affixed to a space mission? Their work is astounding.”
In addition to traveling to Houston, the METSA team also participated in The North Texas NASA-VIPS Innovation Day on April 27. More than 50 projects spanning biotechnical health, engineering, and computer science were displayed.
Each project featured working prototypes that were demonstrated to NASA Engineers and flight surgeons. Many of the projects aligned with TEA (Texas Education Agency) Pathways..
“The METSA students are now working on the entrepreneurial aspect of their innovation,” Ortiz-Rivera said. “They are seeking intellectual property protection and completing Lean Business Models under the guidance of the University of Iowa STEM Innovator, a STEM and entrepreneurial program.”
The Math, Engineering, Technology and Science Academy is part of the Career and Technical Education (CTE) program in CFBISD. METSA is an active learning experience that fosters critical thinking, collaboration, communication and literacy in a technology rich learning environment. Students who are a part of this program can choose from a variety of career strands and graduate aware, eligible, and prepared for postsecondary pursuits in STEM fields. To learn more about METSA, please visit the academy’s website.
About NASA HUNCH:
The Design and Prototyping HUNCH Program is a way for students of all skill levels to develop innovative solutions to problems posed by life on the International Space Station. Many of the projects are items personally requested by the International Space Station Crew to help ease living conditions aboard the station, giving students the opportunity to really make an impact on the lives of Astronauts. Other projects come from Flight Crew Systems and Operational groups at NASA that need more idea development. Students from all over the United States partner with mentors at NASA Research Centers across the country to develop unique solutions.
For more information about NASA HUNCH, please visit the program’s website.