Tuesday, March 20, 2012

SSDC12 Recap

I could not have been more impressed with, and proud of, our Newell-Fonda students who participated in the Space Settlement Design Competition at Johnson Space Center these last few days.  The following students went as participants:
  • Anthony Jacobs
  • Maggie Kime
  • Mike Dewey
  • Zoe Behrens
  • Joseph Mercer
  • Tanner Crotty
Mike Duitsman (participated in 2009 and 2010) went along as mentor from Iowa State University.  He was the only mentor accepted to go this year.  I went as chaperone and tech support for the competition.

All the chaperones and NASA personnel involved in the competition stated their opinion that this was the best group of students, the smoothest competition, and the highest-quality proposals they've seen a long time.  Several people down there went out of their way to talk to me about our students, and about our mentor, Mike.  They were impressed with their intelligence, knowledge, maturity, work ethic, and flexibility in the face of obstacles.

I want to make special mention of Mike Duitsman's contribution to the competition.  There is normally a person at the competition, a NASA employee, who manages the IT (information technology) end of things.  He maintains the database of students, splits them up into their teams based on results of an aptitude survey, prints out competition badges, and prints out certificates at the end.  This person came down with severe flu, and could not be there.  He passed all his information on to Mike and me at the beginning of the competition.  Mike and I got all the badges ready, and distributed to the teams.  After that, Mike took over completely, and served as the central IT guy during the competition.  We literally could not have operated without his help.  By the end of the competition, the NASA people were relating to Mike as though he'd always been part of their team.  I watched a NASA engineer, known for her sour disposition, chatting and laughing with Mike as though they were old friends.  It really was an amazing example of what we hope to accomplish with this program.

Congratulations are also in order for Zoe Behrens, who was a member of the team selected as winner in the competition.  She did a great job as a first year participant, we look forward to her taking leadership positions in future competitions.

Thank you to administrators, teachers, school board members, parents, students, support staff, and everyone else who helped make this trip possible!

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