DreamUp: Local Students Prepare to Launch Ideas Into Space

By Georgina Chapman

Imagine watching Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket launch into space and knowing your school project is on board! That’s the reality for three groups of incredibly bright and lucky students right here in Huntsville/Madison County. Students from Bob Jones, Sparkman, and New Century Technology high schools have been selected as part of the DreamUp project, in collaboration with DreamUp PBC, the leading provider of space-based educational opportunities, NanoRacks, LLC, the world’s leading commercial space station company, and sponsored by the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber.

The students attended Blue Origin’s groundbreaking to share their research with people in attendance. They have been working on their projects since Spring 2018, when each school assigned their student groups and brainstormed project ideas for pitching to the DreamUp team. Students have submitted monthly reports to the technical team at NanoRacks, and the ultimate reward will come this year when the students get to watch their project launch into space as a payload on a Blue Origin rocket!

Leading the teams are:

  • Teacher Jessye Gaines, Bob Jones High School, representing Madison City Schools
  • Teacher Karman Morgan, New Century Technology High School, representing Huntsville City Schools
  • Teacher Renee Quaife, Sparkman High School, representing Madison County Schools

The Huntsville/Madison County Chamber visited the schools to meet with the students and learn about their projects. Talk about some smart kids making this community A Smart Place! At New Century Technology High School, students explained their project titled Shockwave. The project will test if voltage is affected by microgravity using a Raspberry Pi. Twelfth graders Carson Keel and Tiffany Meier explained how they used coding language Python to create their design, and how their project will detect measurements every 15 seconds with the information collected.

While visiting Bob Jones High School, students described how their project will test the electrical current created by heat transfer in space. They will be able to record data from the time the payload is powered on in the rocket up to the time the payload lands. Originally, students at James Clemens High School were assigned the project, under the supervision of teacher Dave Frederick. They came up with a rough prototype and basic electrical diagram.  When they graduated last May, they handed off the project to students at Bob Jones, who proceeded to create the design in Solid Edge and found ways to reduce the weight to approximately .9 lbs (the payload must weigh no more than 1.1 pounds.)

Students at Sparkman High School are currently re-working their project after their initial concept was unable to work in the payload enclosure. But the student team is hard at work coming up with a new idea to finish this spring.

This project is part of a unique partnership. Blue Origin created and launches the New Shepard space vehicle, while the DreamUp team, in collaboration with NanoRacks, prepares the scientific payloads for launch and works with students to ensure the project is safe, functioning, and ready to launch.

Be on the lookout this year when the rocket launches and we celebrate these students’ amazing achievements!