Students from Cumberland County vie for the chance to send their science experiments to the International Space Station

The International Space Station (ISS) recently received a new batch of science projects, courtesy of the 3rd annual STARward STEM Expo. Held at Douglas Byrd High School in Fayetteville, the event attracted over 200 students representing teams from kindergarten through 12th grade.

One of the many excited participants was Maura Richard, a student who expressed her thrill at being able to design and potentially send her own projects into space. In addition to the student winners, two teachers and a principal will attend the Space Academy for Educators in June at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Alabama.

The importance of promoting education through events like the STEM Expo was emphasized by Cumberland County STEM Education Director Frank McKay. He stressed the need to focus on what communities and the country need right now in terms of education.

Experiments at the expo ranged from simple to complex, with student team The Fly Guys testing whether plant seeds could grow in outer space. Other experiments have explored topics such as the impact of perchlorates, a chemical compound found in the soil on Mars, on aerospace aluminum alloy.

Denise Renfro, a teacher in Cumberland County, recalled a past experiment that investigated the effects of perchlorates on aerospace materials and how it related to corrosion on the Mars rover. The creativity and innovation of students participating in the expo have led to exciting discoveries and opportunities for their projects to be sent to the ISS.

The winners of this year’s STARward STEM Expo will be announced on Tuesday evening.

By Sophia Gonzalez

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