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NASA Launches South Houston HS Science Experiment into Space

NASA Launches South Houston High School Science Experiment into Space
Posted on 02/04/2014
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Jorge Olivares
The SHHS NASA Group, comprised of five juniors and AP Chemistry teacher Jorge Olivares, was selected by NASA to send an experiment to space to have astronauts test it aboard the International Space Station. Pictured here: Jorge Olivares. Get the story and photos below!

SHHS Science Experiment

SHHS Science Experiment


A talented group of AP Chemistry students from South Houston High School have embarked on a mission of scientific discovery. Their assignment: To compare the effect of polyurethane foam (often used for home insulation, repairs and construction) produced in Earth’s gravity with the density of foam produced in space.

The experiment was selected by NASA to be launched into space where it is currently undergoing testing by astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS). While astronauts are testing the experiment in space, students are performing the control experiment on Earth. When the project returns in the near future, the results of both experiments will be compared.

The project is a team effort by members of South Houston’s afterschool science program, the NASA group. The group is comprised of five juniors Karen Perez, Arlen Suarez, Melanie Orellana, Diego Medina, Christian Escobar and their teacher, Jorge Olivares, who according to students has a knack for integrating science curriculum with real-life experiences.

“I feel honored to be recognized by NASA based on my school’s experiment,” Perez said. “Working with my teammates and Mr. Olivares for over a year has paid off and it feels great to be noticed by the most prestigious astronomical company.”

Results of the study could help space crews find low-cost, effective materials for use in repairs or construction in space.

The team began working on the project last year. Once it was approved by the Johnson Space Center, it was transported into space through rocket launch on Jan. 13.

“From the first time I mentioned the possibility of doing a project at the ISS, they all worked diligently to make it a reality,” Olivares said. “I am extremely proud of their dedication and commitment. The excitement of this research should carry them forward as they prepare to start their college careers in a couple of years.”

South Houston High is one of only a few schools in the nation chosen to participate in the unique educational opportunity, which was made possible through NASA and NanoRacks.

“Being in this NASA group is a great honor and a great opportunity to change the future,” Suarez said. “I hope our experiment will lead to more improvements for the space program.”

“I think it is amazing how NASA has given our school a chance to show people how talented we are no matter where we come from,” Orellana added.

Olivares hopes this experience will foster more opportunities for the school’s science program.

We have tremendously smart and dedicated students and I am honored to be their teacher,” Olivares said. “The most amazing thing is NASA is also helping incoming students realize that the possibilities for development in science and technology are endless. As I like to say, ‘Success breeds success’ and this is one more example of that.”

SHHS Science Experiment

SHHS Science Experiment