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Kealakehe Students to Take Part in New PISCES Project

February 20, 2015, 2:22 PM HST
* Updated February 20, 2:23 PM
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A Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems project will give students from Kealakehe High School and ‘Iolani School on Oahu an opportunity to participate in a project that involves flying a dust shield experiment to the moon.

Students will take part in the project that is a collaborative effort with NASA and a Google XPRIZE team to build and operation an experiment on the surface of the moon.

“With access to cutting edge technology, students of all ages are becoming complex and creative thinkers inspired to apply classroom knowledge to real world issues,” said Dr. Timothy R. Cottrell, head of school at ‘Iolani School. “The PISCES project is an extraordinary, innovative learning opportunity for students to gain the hands-on experience, technological skills and access to a culture of collaboration that is essential to 21st century learning.”

A prototype design of the Electrodynamic Dust Shield will be made, and NASA and PISCES will give students the opportunity to test and analyze the prototype performance, in addition to designing and building complementary flight components for the experiment.

“We are excited to collaborate with PISCES, NASA, and ‘Iolani School to create an invaluable learning experience for Hawai’i’s students,” said Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi, Hawai’i State Department of Education. “Kealakehe High’s students already do great work in science and technology. This takes them to a whole new level of hands-on learning and collaboration.

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After years of NASA research and development, the dust shield experiment is ready. Using a high voltage, low current device, the technology used in the dust shield repels and removes planetary dust. This dust is known to collect on places like solar panels and space hardware.

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The technology, which has been tested tremendously on earth and in low gravity flights, has never been tested in space of on the moon.

“NASA’s technology could solve the dust problem in space and this lunar flight experiment will be the first time the dust shield is tested outside of the laboratory,” Rob Kelso, executive director of PISCES said. “Not only will students gain real-world aerospace engineering experience, but the design and test data they’ll be gathering could be used in future space missions. This is an exemplary project that promotes STEM education and covers multiple disciplines with a core curriculum in physics, geology, chemistry, soil mechanics, space weather, astronomy, and creative engineering design, as well as offers a crucial educational element that is often overlooked in traditional curricula: Systems Engineering.”

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