Students in the Signature Program’s Engineering Design and Development class spent the fall semester creating tools for astronauts and presented their final concepts to NASA engineers before Winter Break.
The projects were developed as part of NASA HUNCH. Currently, Shawnee Mission is the only school district in Kansas participating in the program.
According to their website, HUNCH gives high school students the opportunity to “launch their careers through the participation in the design and fabrication of real world valued products for NASA.”
“NASA utilizes the creativity of high school students to develop ideas that, maybe, they could refine and send to the moon,” said Shawnee Mission Engineering teacher, Greg Thiel.
Students worked in pairs to conceptualize, design, develop and ultimately fabricate tools that are efficient but can also withstand the turbulent and extreme conditions of space.
The culmination event was a conference call with NASA Engineers. Students presented their research and designs and received real-time feedback on their work.
“We’re learning from the professionals,” said Shawnee Mission North Senior Luis Montanez. “We’re seeing what they can say about our project, what they think, their feedback is just great for us. That way we can go back, make improvements, make things better and make them a little more efficient.”
“It was really fun to see how we could create this idea and almost pretend like we’re on the moon and see how our idea would be used,” said Shawnee Mission North Senior Samantha Herron.
The NASA Hunch program has 277 participating schools across 44 states with more than 2500 students.
“It’s definitely an opportunity that nobody else usually gets,” said Shawnee Mission South Junior, Jackson Hemenway. “So, I’ll definitely savor it.”
“It was definitely fun communicating with NASA and just having some true problems that might really influence the NASA program,” said Thiel. “It put a little extra pep in my step this semester.”
The best student designs from across the country will be developed by NASA and sent on a lunar habitation mission in 2025. The students behind the research will be flown to the Johnson Space Center to see their projects launched into space.
Finalists will be announced in Spring 2023.