Experiment by Team From Makua Lani Christian Academy Picked to Be Part of NASA TechRise Student Challenge

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A student team from Makua Lani Christian Academy in Kailua-Kona joined the list of winning teams from 57 schools throughout the country in the NASA TechRise Student Challenge.

“At NASA, we educate and inspire the next generation of scientists, engineers and explorers,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “The TechRise Student Challenge is an excellent way for students to get hands-on experience designing, building and launching experiments on suborbital vehicles. I’m so impressed we received hundreds of entries from across the country, and I want to congratulate the winning teams. I can’t wait to see these incredible experiments come to life!”

The challenge tasks students to build experiments that autonomously operate and collect data from the edge of space aboard a suborbital rocket or a high-altitude balloon test flight. Makua Lani Christian Academy’s team’s experiment will explore “Granular Flow” in a suborbital rocket experiment.

According to information provided by the school to Future Engineers, the Makua Lani team’s experiment is designed to separate materials of different shapes and sizes by vibrating the container that holds them, with materials of similar shape and size expected to aggregate.


“The effect is similar to the ‘Brazil Nut Effect’ by which large nuts shift to the top,” the information says. “In zero gravity, the separation may happen differently. Material separation may have important applications in mining and shipping.”

Administered by Future Engineers, the challenge aims to inspire students to seek a deeper understanding of Earth’s atmosphere, space exploration, coding and electronics, as well as an appreciation of the importance of test data. Nearly 600 teams applied, representing 5,000 students in grades 6-12. The winning teams will each receive $1,500 to build their experiments and an assigned spot to test them on NASA-sponsored suborbital rocket flights operated by Blue Origin or UP Aerospace, or a high-altitude balloon flight from Raven Aerostar.

NASA selected 57 winning teams from 37 states and territories in the inaugural nationwide challenge designed to attract, engage and prepare future science, technology, engineering and mathematics professionals. The teams gain real world STEM experience by building these experiments.


Winning proposals included, among others, measuring greenhouse gases, space farm irrigation systems, lunar dust mitigation, exploring human health in space and understanding the effects of microgravity on physical phenomenon ranging from the behavior of waves in liquids to the effectiveness of ink jet printing.

Experiments assigned to high-altitude balloon flights will have more than four hours of flight time for testing experiments, while those flying on suborbital rockets will have three minutes of testing in microgravity. The teams also will receive a suite of materials for preparing their payloads, access to flight simulator software and technical support from experts.

The selected teams will build the payloads in preparation for flight test, targeted to take place in early 2023.


A slate of nearly 500 volunteer judges, including teachers, NASA personnel and technology subject matter experts, offered their time, passion and expertise to review entries and select winners across a broad geographic distribution. Proposals were evaluated on criteria including the originality of their flight experiment idea, its impact on education and/or society and the quality of the build plan.

NASA’s Flight Opportunities program, part of the agency’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, manages the challenge with support from NASA’s Office of STEM Engagement.

TechRise is one of many NASA prizes and challenges that offer opportunities to participate in America’s space program. For the latest NASA TechRise Student Challenge news and to follow the teams’ progress, click here.

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