L-R: Dr. Kyle Quinn, Lexi Betts, Hope Hesterly, Alexis Bryant, and Trey Jeffus

On Tuesday, October 10, four students  from Camden Fairview High School visited Dr. Kyle Quinn’s lab at the U of A. The four students—Lexi Betts, Hope Hesterly, Alexis Bryant, and Trey Jeffus—are all current high school juniors, as well as participants in the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program [or SSEP], a program of the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE) in the U.S. and the Arthur C. Clarke Institute for Space Education.

Hope Hesterly, Lexi Betts, and Alexis Bryant

As part of the program, the students designed an experiment (creating a polymer in microgravity) that was performed by astronauts on the International Space Station last summer.  They visited the U of A in order to analyze experimental results, and with the help of Dr. Quinn and graduate student Alan Woessner, they were able use a custom microtester to perform tensile mechanical tests on polymer samples mixed on earth and the international space station. In the process, Dr. Quinn explained, they also learned basic mechanics of materials concepts. The students are now at work on their final report, which will be submitted to SSEP when completed.

Trey Jeffus, Hope Hesterly, and Lexi Betts

“It was fun to explore concepts like tensile strength and viscoelasticity with the next generation of scientists and engineers,” said Dr. Quinn. “Hopefully we also got them excited about how you can apply these same engineering principles to topics in medicine and biology.”

“Visits like these clearly demonstrate the intent of our faculty to actively engage with the next generation of researchers in our communities; and to expose them to cutting edge technologies,” said Dr. Raj Rao, professor and department head in biomedical engineering.