photo Ava MacBlane
Liam McColley (l) and Tess Himelspach (r) instructing their classmates

Modern media is inundated with information about the dangers, or the lack thereof, of climate change. The issue has polarized Godwin students, and some upperclassmen are experimenting with the hope of separating fact from fiction.

A group of juniors and seniors, led by Tess Himelspach and physics teacher Michael Fetsko, working in coordination with physics professor Dr. Erlich from William & Mary, are organizing a project to launch a satellite to research and analyze data about climate change as it relates to physics.

and seniors, led by Tess Himelspach and physics teacher Michael Fetsko, working in coordination with Physics professor Dr. Erlich from William & Mary, organizing a project to launch a satellite to research and analyze data about climate change as it relates to physics.

Under the name TribeSAT, the project is participated in by a small group of colleges and high schools around the world. The satellite, which is to be launched some time next Spring, will be sent to the International Space Station (ISS).

On its path to the ISS, the satellite will record invaluable data related to greenhouse gases and atmospheric heat, which will be sent to the students for their analysis.

The students’ analysis will go into a report with analysis from other groups around the country and the results from all of the groups will be shared and analyzed by leading space research organizations.

Though the project doesn’t hold any bearing on the student participants’ grades or class standing, they are passionate about the project. “Physics is a very fascinating discipline of science…I’ve always enjoyed space and science…so the project is perfect for my interests,” said senior Bethany Kross.

Students have sacrificed multiple weekends in the name of pursuing their collective interests in science and experimentation.“From the beginning this project wasn’t about a grade…it was an amazing opportunity for students who loved physics to work with $20,000 worth of equipment,” said Fetsko.  

Himelspach has had experience working with agencies such as NASA  before. She said the experiment offered her new insights into equipment and technology that she had not been around beforehand.

“I have not had exposure to the technology which is being used in the satellite, so it is interesting to learn more about the actual steps which must be taken when creating a working satellite, ” Himelspach said.  

Many of the students within the experiment have aspirations to be engineers or scientists and the project has acted as a rare chance for highschool students to have access to the same technology used by organizations such as NASA.

“This project offers students first-hand access to real-world science, something that is invaluable to the students as they look forward to college and life-beyond,” said Fetsko.  

The students plan to meet every week to work towards their goal of a Spring Launch, and will visit William & Mary on multiple occasions to receive guidance from Professor Erlich.

“I definitely think the satellite project will make a lasting impression as one of Godwin’s many interesting and impactful student led projects,” said Kross.

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