Posted on 03/23/2017

The countdown to blastoff is over for SHS students selected to attend the NASA Space Settlement Design Competition at Johnson Space Center, as they have now launched their journey to Houston, Texas!  SHS Science Instructor, David Munson, is accompanying five students as they head to Sioux City to connect with other Iowa students attending the competition.  From Sioux City, approximately 100 students will board three charter buses to Houston, arriving nearly 24 hours after leaving Spencer. 

This is Spencer’s 9th year of attending the competition, and Munson enjoys the experience.  “We have been graciously funded by the Spencer Community School Foundation, and we really appreciate their support for this.  It is a great trip, and the kids have a great time.  They learn a lot, and I am excited to go every year.  I am looking forward to another great trip,” said Munson. 

Students including Scott Hoy, Alexandra Warren, Abby Johnson, Emma Schwarck and Natalie Jacobson, completed the application process and were selected to attend.  “To be considered, we had to be taking an advanced science course.  Initially, 35 letters were handed out, inviting students to apply, and then a panel of judges chose four people and two alternates based on our application and essay about why we should be selected,” said Johnson.  While solid math and science skills are important, that is not the sole criteria of how students get selected.  According to Munson, other strengths, as well as 21st century skills, are valuable due to the various aspects of the competition, and trying to get 50 students to work on something together is really a challenge in and of itself.

Upon arrival at the Johnson Space Center, the Iowa students will be met by an additional 100 students from Texas, and the entire group will be divided into four teams of 40 to 50 students.  After mingling with team members, the students will crash around midnight on the floor of the museum amongst the exhibits.  Work will officially begin on Saturday morning, and once tasked with the project, all four teams will have 24 hours to create their design, followed by a presentation on Sunday.  Throughout the process, each team, called a company, will be assigned at least one NASA space engineer to serve as their CEO.  “To be able to meet with them and talk with them to learn what they do is valuable as well,” added Munson.   

For Schwarck, the opportunity will allow the students to do something that isn’t available to them around here, so she is excited.  Jacobson too is excited about the experience, and said, “It will be a hands-on opportunity to explore something that I want to potentially go into, but it is also a way to get to know people and collaborate on a project that might be stressful but also really fun at the same time.”

After all of the groups have presented, a winning team will be selected, and twelve students from the winning team will attend an international competition in Florida over the summer. 

Best of luck to the students and Mr. Munson!  Go Tigers!