ORANGE PARK – Higher Orbits is a non-profit with the mission of promoting Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, along with teamwork, leadership and communication through the study of …
ORANGE PARK – Higher Orbits is a non-profit with the mission of promoting Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, along with teamwork, leadership and communication through the study of spaceflight.
Humanity’s journey into space is an ideal launchpad to excite students like St. Johns Country Day School eighth grader Celine Torkzad about STEM. Higher Orbits works to help them fulfill their dreams and ambitions while also building valuable life skills.
Go For Launch! is a multi-day program that uses space exploration as a platform to launch student involvement in STEM and STEAM (STEM with Art programs) and promotes teamwork, leadership and communication.
Torkzad joined Nolan Williams and Cove Searle, both of Indiana and Arizona’s Krish Nangia, on the winning team.
A unique facet of Go For Launch! Is students work with an astronaut throughout each event day. Students were immersed in the wonder of human spaceflight through talks from experts of space and STEM. Such speakers have included an astronaut, former International Space Station and Space Shuttle flight controllers, astronaut instructors, scientists, and engineers.
Students get insight and feedback from experienced space and STEM professionals whose goals are to illustrate the numerous possibilities in the world of STEM.
Through a partnership with 4-H Club, the Higher Orbits winning team of “Go for Launch! 4-H in Space” will have their experiment flown to the International Space Station. The tentative launch date was Wednesday at 8:30 pm.
Torkzad’s work will study microgravity’s effects on spirulina growth in space.
“I was about six or seven years old, when I started to get into science, especially biology and astronomy,” Torkzad wrote on her profile at higherorbits.org.
“My seventh-grade science teacher connected me with my county Florida 4-H agent, who was looking for one more person from my county to join 4-H’s collaboration with Higher Orbits, also known as Go For Launch!”
As part of the winning team, she was invited to watch the launch of SpaceX CRS-27.
“Winning was unexpected but not unwelcome,” she said. “I would love to do something like that again. I can’t wait to see another launch.”
Not only was Torkzad the youngest person on the team, but she was also the only girl.
“Originally, we wanted to name ourselves ‘Team Glasses,’ but after some brainstorming, we decided to name ourselves ‘Team Space Goats.’ (Hints: look at the zodiac constellation Saturn in July 2022” (when they competed for a spot on SpaceX)a.
“I suggested the idea of an experiment with cyanobacteria after reading an article about it being potentially used for mining on Mars a few days before,” she said. “While trying not to fling my laptop across the room because of its annoying persistence to not connect to the Wi-Fi, discovered about and suggested spirulina.”
Spirulina is a cyanobacterium under the category of algae and is rich in vitamins – one tablespoon contains four grams of protein. Covering the problems of a continuous supply of protein in space for long-distance trips, they found their experiment.
“When we weren’t working on our experiment, 4-H organized multiple activities for the members of the other three states,” Torkzad said. “My personal favorite was when some rangers brought two alligators
“It was certainly my pleasure to work with these future architects of our space industry. They will shape our country’s future in space,” said the featured astronaut of Go For Launch! 4-H In Space, Jim “J.R.” Riley.
“We are thrilled for Team Space Goats and truly grateful for this partnership with 4-H that allowed all their participating students to experience this opportunity,” said Michelle Lucas, Founder and CEO of Higher Orbits.