Science in the sun

Seniors+Yahnah+Johns-Woodby+and+Kensi+Almeida+present+their+project+to+an+audience+during+the+final+rounds+of+the+competition.%0ACourtesy+of+Ms.+Mary+Musolino

Seniors Yahnah Johns-Woodby and Kensi Almeida present their project to an audience during the final rounds of the competition. Courtesy of Ms. Mary Musolino

Nine Convent of the Sacred Heart juniors and seniors travelled to the 2016 Conrad Spirit of Innovation Summit at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida April 21 as a part of their involvement in the Conrad Challenge. After three days of exploring the field of hands-on science, the students concluded their travels April 24.
The Conrad Challenge is a multi-phase competition in which students around the world use science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), innovation, and entrepreneurship to create solutions to real-world problems. Participants entered the category of aerospace and aviation, cyber technology, energy and environment, or health and nutrition.

Seniors Yahnah Johns-Woodby and Kensi Almeida present their project to an audience during the final rounds of the competition. Courtesy of Ms. Mary Musolino
Seniors Yahnah Johns-Woodby and Kensi Almeida present their project to an audience during the final rounds of the competition.
Courtesy of Ms. Mary Musolino

Ms. Nancy Conrad founded The Conrad Foundation in 2008 in honor of the late Apollo 12 astronaut Charles “Pete” Conrad, who pursued innovation and discovery and was the third man to walk on the moon. The foundation’s goal is to encourage students to create effective solutions to the world’s problems and to promote experiential learning.
One hundred and thirty six teams advanced past the preliminary round of the challenge in hopes of receiving an invitation to the 2016 Innovation Summit in Florida as well as the honor of being a Pete Conrad Scholar.
During this phase of the challenge, the teams created an in-depth portfolio of their projects. The judges then reviewed the submissions and decided which teams were qualified to attend the 2016 Innovation Summit. Sacred Heart seniors Grace Passannante, Kelly Heinzerling, Kensi Almeida, Caroline Roche, Cynthia Thomas, Lucy Alderson-Smith and Yahnah Johns-Woodby and juniors Deah Dushyanth and Francesca Lippolis qualified and attended.
“It was such an excellent learning experience, as the students were able to experience the ideas and scientific inventions of students from around the world,” Upper School Science Teacher Ms. Mary Musolino said.
Junior Deah Dushyanth and Upper School Science Teacher Ms. Mary Musolino celebrate an excursion to Disney World. Courtesy of Ms. Mary Musolino
Junior Deah Dushyanth and Upper School Science Teacher Ms. Mary Musolino celebrate an excursion to Disney World.
Courtesy of Ms. Mary Musolino

Ms. Musolino encouraged the students to use the engineering design process in developing their projects for the competition. They had to identify a problem and then develop a solution using a prototype. 
“The Conrad Challenge is a good way for teenagers to expand their knowledge about the world and their environment and recognize the problems within it,” Kensi said. “After recognizing all the problems, it forces you to think of an innovative and original idea to fix it.”
Caroline, Cynthia, and Lucy invented a water distiller called “The Purifier”. The unit utilizes an exothermic reaction involving calcium oxide in a filter-like enclosure to clean water.
Kensi, Yahnah, and seniors Grace Sutherland and Lilly Morriss, who did not travel to Florida with the group, created the “Air Pal”, a lightweight, environmentally friendly phone case that contains activated charcoal. The charcoal helps collect toxins and pollutants in the air surrounding the phone.
Grace and Kelly’s product, “Catch it with a Flush”, is a test strip designed to detect urinary tract infections at an early stage. In addition, Grace and Kelly plan on pitching their project to investors in hopes of making it a real product.
After presenting their projects, students socialized in the Kennedy Space Center. Courtesy of Ms. Mary Musolino.
After presenting their projects, students socialized in the Kennedy Space Center.
Courtesy of Ms. Mary Musolino.

“It was great to see that science research truly unites the world,” Grace said. “There is always a growing need for more solutions to the world’s problems.”
Deah and Francesca devised “The Burn Away”. This is a unique four-layer glove that helps treat kitchen burns.
The first day of the Summit, students worked together in mixed groups to solve a mission to Mars problem, toured the Kennedy Space Center, and watched a presentation about Apollo 8. They also gave their Investor Pitch to the judges, which included a written proposal and slideshow presentation. To end the day, students celebrated with a dinner and dance party. 
“This year I am very pleased that all student teams presented a preliminary Power Pitch to the judges,” Ms. Musolino said. “It was also very exciting to learn that two of the teams, the Toxin Tamers and the UTI Spies, made it into the final round. These teams expertly presented their pitch to the entire Summit.”
Kelly, Grace, Kensi, and Yahnah, who advanced to the final round, presented again Saturday.
Throughout the trip, the groups attended lectures from former astronaut Jon McBride as well as from a representative from Battelle Industries.
“The NASA Kennedy Space Center was so interesting and the weather was beautiful. It was a great bonding experience for the science research students and Ms. Musolino,” Grace said. “I strongly encourage all current Science Research students to enter into the competition and enjoy this trip.” 
-Morgan Johnson, Co-News Editor