STVM NASA Expulsion Team Meets the Challenge

Dec 01, 2017

St. Vincent-St. Mary High School Juniors Fiona Gaffney, Jacob Kulig, Andrew Ewald, Deviana Lal, Danil Bagin, Bradford Fram, Emily Grayson, Anne Hanlon, Greta Puhalla, Nick Llewellyn, Evan Tipton and Christian Wierzbicki are accepted into NASA’s Expulsion Challenge.

The NASA competition challenges teams of high school students from across the country to design and build objects that sink in water with normal gravity, to then be expelled as far as possible out of the water during free fall from NASA’s 2.2 Second Drop Tower. The expulsion must result from the hydrophobic (water repellent) surface of each object. 

The STVM team prepared a proposal describing how they would design and test the objects which included conceptual drawings. Now, they will build their unique test objects using 3D design software and 3D manufacturing. The students will then team up with professors from the University of Akron to coat the objects with a variety of hydrophobic polymers. Once coated, students will test the objects in-house by constructing their own drop tower using high speed video to optimize their designs and coatings. The objects will finally be sent to NASA where they will be put in vessels of water and dropped 24 meters (79 feet). During the fall, the objects and water will experience 2.2 seconds of apparent near-weightlessness or microgravity. Student teams will analyze video results from the testing and prepare a written report to be submitted to NASA for evaluation. NASA invites the top performing teams to the 2018 Meeting of the American Society for Gravitational and Space Research (ASGSR) in Washington, D.C. to present their results in a student poster session.