Students at South Charleston High School are reaching for the sky in a new project that hopes to launch a satellite into outer space.
The project started earlier this year, involving more than a dozen students and faculty. The idea was first brought to light by Jeff Imel, a local businessman, who approached Joe Oliver, the high school's computer science teacher.
"If I can spark an interest in school and in these kids, that's great," said Oliver. "Hopefully other kids will see it and ask how to get involved."
Students have completed about 10 percent of the project. They say it's gratifying to be able to assemble, engineer, and program the parts by themselves.
"I want to go into engineering aerospace when I grow up," said Tiffany Grigsby. "I was like engineering, satellites – what better thing to do."
Logan Schomo, a junior at South Charleston High School, is responsible for writing the computer code that communicates with the satellite's parts when it is in the air. He says this type of hands-on experimenting reinforces the concepts he hears in class.
"I like it a lot better than learning through a textbook," he said. "I get more of a feel of what I am doing."
The satellite will be equipped with a gamma ray reader, weather center, and camera. Teachers are hopeful everything will be recorded and streamed online, so students can monitor the progress.
Students hope to launch Near Space Satellites this spring. They will be carried into the atmosphere by helium filled balloons to serve as a test platform. If the trial is successful, NASA will launch the satellite into orbit using a rocket.
The class is asking for donations to purchase equipment for the project. You can help out by visiting: indiegogo.com/projects/near-space-project.