By Alan Gionet
LAKEWOOD, Colo. (CBS4) – Things are pretty intense in the last days of school in Matt Brown’s “Extreme Engineering Program.” His classes are run under the Warren Tech program at Lakewood High School.
Students learned this week that their work will be going to space for a second time.
They won the Guardians of the Galaxy Space station challenge in a competition with schools from across the country. The contest was a cooperative effort by the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space, sponsored by Marvel Comics.
Only two schools won the competition; Mr. Brown’s program and another in Greeneville, Tennessee.
Their idea for solving a problem involves misting water on plants. Plants don’t grow well in zero gravity. A big problem is water accumulates in the roots rather than wicking away.
The program at Lakewood has been trying to crack this problem for years.
Several years ago, they came up with a “hydrofuge,” to spin water off roots — too much can be as bad as none.
Their design won a spot on a launch in 2015 where it was tested on the International Space Station. Now the team is looking at misting water onto the plants.
“Water does not act the same way up there as it does down here,” said Brown. “It kind of clings together in blobs.”
Brown will work with the students through the summer without extra pay. He expects the kids will have to be in class about 10 hours a week all summer long.
They need to have it ready to fly in late November or early December. Their work will likely be on board the SpaceX 16 rocket.
Last time, Brown and some of the students went to the launch — a huge and exciting day. Before considering that, first, they have to give up all that summer vacation to get it right.