The Ottumwa Courier

Southeast Iowa

April 9, 2014

Pella students participate in NASA's Space Settlement Design competition

This year four students from Pella HS got the opportunity to participate in NASA’s Space Settlement Design Competition (SSDC). PHS students traveled to the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas where they joined approximately 200 other students from NW Iowa and Texas for the competition.

Sally Ropes, Cole Siewert, Jake Speltz, and Alex Bragg were the Pella HS participants. The SSDC is designed to provide students with experiences similar to those encountered by real engineers. The competition teaches students to communicate, cope with stress, solve problems, work as a team, manage time, organize a huge task, apply STEM skills, ask questions, assess their solution, evaluate economic costs, and evaluate quality of life on the settlement.

Students have 23 hours to complete a plan with a limit of 50 pages and 35 minutes to present their proposal. Their plans are presented to NASA Aerospace Engineers who grill the students with questions when the presentation is over. Students were placed in four teams (engineering companies) and given a request for proposal from the futuristic Foundation Society.

The task is placed in the year 2049. This future date invites students to think outside of the box about the technologies that could exist. The task this year was to design a space settlement that could capture asteroids and mine the asteroids for profits. The settlement needed hold a society of 5000 people. The settlement needed to be expandable and allow for visitors to travel to and from Earth to the settlement.

This year the decision for a winning team was especially difficult due to the exceptional proposals. Jake Speltz was a member of the team that won the competition. Members from his team will be invited back to Houston this summer for the international competition.

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