Convent of the Sacred Heart students find space in Florida

Sacred+Heart+students+pose+for+a+picture+with+Nancy+Conrad%2C+founder+of+the+Conrad+Foundation.%0ACourtesy+of+Alex+Bolanos

Sacred Heart students pose for a picture with Nancy Conrad, founder of the Conrad Foundation. Courtesy of Alex Bolanos

Four Convent of the Sacred Heart science research students attended the three day Conrad Spirit of Innovation Summit in Cape Canaveral, Florida April 8 through April 10 to receive recognition for becoming semi-finalists in the Conrad Challenge and to explore different branches of science.
The Conrad Foundation was established in 2008 in honor of the life and legacy of Charles “Pete” Conrad Jr., an Apollo 12 astronaut and the third man to walk on the moon.
According to conradchallenge.org, the Conrad Challenge’s mission is to foster contextual learning, innovation and entrepreneurship along with the skills to create a sustainable world.
Ms. Mary Musolino, Upper School science teacher and science research director, encouraged her students to apply to the Conrad Challenge to give them the opportunity to experience working as a team.

Sacred Heart students pose for a picture with Nancy Conrad, founder of the Conrad Foundation. Courtesy of Alex Bolanos
Sacred Heart students pose for a picture with Mrs. Nancy Conrad, founder of the Conrad Foundation.
Courtesy of Alex Bolanos ’15

The application process consisted of four preliminary rounds where students made videos, answered questions, found solutions, made prototypes, and designed and tested their experiments.
“Research students had the opportunity to work on their Conrad team throughout the year. This was valuable because working as part of a team accurately reflects the way scientific research is conducted,” Ms. Musolino said.
Team Creole Initiative included five Sacred Heart seniors: Alex Bolanos, Mary O’Sullivan, Abbi Wilson, Sarah Banker, and Jenny Blessing. The group created NOLA, a genetically mutated plant engineered to help rebuild swamps in New Orleans. Many of the swamps in the area, which typically absorb water to prevent flooding, were destroyed during Hurricane Katrina. NOLA, a highly reproductive plant which the group engineered to have the hairy root disease to absorb excess water, ameliorates the problem. Team Creole Initiative was a semi-finalist in the Energy and Environment category.
Senior Catie Capolongo also traveled to Florida to represent Team Raskin’s three other team members and seniors, Jordan Cohen, Francesca Hay, and Vanessa Raskin. The students proposed a Band-Aid Bot which would provide immediate service to injured individuals after an accident, before emergency response teams arrive. The Band-Aid Bot would have the capability to evaluate the situation, provide assistance, and call 911 if necessary. Team Raskin was a semi-finalist in the Health and Nutrition category.
Science research students listening to inspirational words spoken by former astronaut Robert Cabana. Courtesy of Ms. Musolino
Science research students listening to inspirational words spoken by former astronaut Mr. Robert Cabana.
Courtesy of Ms. Musolino

During the summit, the Sacred Heart students heard presentations from student entrepreneurs from different locations across the world.
“We met great people from places like Israel, South Korea, and Bangladesh,” Catie said. “They were all so smart and their presentations opened my mind up to a lot of new things.”
The students also heard speeches from Conrad board members, engineer Mr. Ryan Leitch, and former astronauts Mr. John McBride, Mr. Robert Cabana, and Mr. Donald A. Thomas.
All presentations took place in the Kennedy Space Center, the spaceport departure gate for American operated missions and spacecrafts.
“We were able to go on the Atlantis Shuttle stimulation which was really cool because it felt very realistic. The Kennedy Space Center was amazing and consisted of a lot of astonishing exhibits that were extremely accurate,” Mary said.
As the three day Conrad Spirit of Innovation Summit 2015 came to an end, the four Sacred Heart students were chosen to attend the Apollo 13 45th Anniversary Celebration and Dinner April 11, extending their three day stay to a fourth day. During the dinner the students were able to meet the astronauts of Apollo 13 and hear their stories.
– Jessica Johnson, Sports & Health Editor and Video Content Editor