For release: 09/17/02
Release #: 02-231
Winning aerospace design sends students on journey from Capitol Hill to the Marshall Center
Christopher Broere and Brendan Dwyer are at that "in-between" age. For most 11-year-olds, that means the time between being a child and becoming a teenager. But they aren't your average adolescents. Christopher and Brendan are winners of an educational contest NASA's Aerospace Technology Engineering Design Challenge. As winners they received a trip to U.S. Space Camp a tour of the Marshall Center and a trip to Washington, D.C., to speak to a Congressional space subcommittee.
Photo: Christopher Broere and Brendan Dwyer show their design to Marshall Center Director Art Stephenson. (NASA/MSFC)
Christopher Broere and Brendan Dwyer are at that “in-between” age. For most 11-year-olds, that means the time between being a child and becoming a teenager.
For Christopher and Brendan, it means being in the period between speaking to Congress, meeting some of NASA’s top officials including NASA Administrator Sean O’Keefe and Art Stephenson, director of the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. and doing their 6th grade homework.
Christopher and Brendan aren’t your average pre-teens from Northport, N.Y. They are winners of NASA’s Aerospace Technology Engineering Design Challenge an educational contest for 5th through 8th grade students across the country. The contest is one of several NASA Student Involvement Programs, which challenge students to develop science and technology skills through group educational projects.
The design project challenged students to create the lightest possible launch platform using only balsa wood sticks and dowels, cardboard and hot glue while supporting an object many times heavier than the platform itself. To make the challenge really tough, the platform had to survive repeated launches just like NASA’s real launch pads.
Brendan and Christopher’s winning design weighed just over an ounce, but was able to launch a “rocket” 70 times heavier. As a result, their entry beat those of dozens of other students from across the United States.
As a reward for their ingenuity, NASA treated the youths to a trip to Washington, D.C., where they demonstrated their winning design to a Congressional space subcommittee. Next, the boys received a trip to U.S. Space Camp at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, courtesy of NASA, and capped off their tour with a visit to the Marshall Center, showing their project to Center Director Stephenson.
“What these young men accomplished is amazing,” Stephenson said. “It’s one of the most rewarding things for me to see students grasp highly technical concepts at an early age. Christopher and Brendan have very bright futures ahead of them.”
Bright futures certain to be enhanced by their calm, cool and collected attitudes. When asked if they were nervous presenting their design to Congress, Christopher and Brendan shrugged and shook their heads. Forget nerves. The life-long friends were too excited about their design to suffer from a case of “butterflies.”
“What we learned from this is teamwork,” Brendan said. “After several trial-and-error designs, we combined our best ideas into one and it worked great!”
Brendan, the son of Sean and Maureen Dwyer of Northport, is a 6th grader at Northport Middle School where his favorite subjects are science and math. Christopher, the son of Harry and Karen Broere of Northport, also attends 6th grade at Northport Middle School, but favors science, computers and social studies. Winning the aerospace design challenge, Christopher said, gave him an appreciation of NASA’s commitment to education.
Both Christopher and Brendan told NASA Administrator O’Keefe of their dream to one day explore outer space.
They just might make that dream come true, too. After all, how many 11-year-olds get to speak to Congress, meet the head of NASA or spend time studying the rocket models in the office of a center director?
Not many. But Christopher and Brendan took it all in stride when asked to sum up their experience as contest winners.
“It was cool!” said Christopher, as Brendan nodded in agreement.
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