Launching Innovation: Fayetteville’s STEM Expo Sends Winning Science Projects to the International Space Station

Cumberland County students vie for chance to send science experiments to International Space Station

The annual STARward STEM Expo, held at Douglas Byrd High School in Fayetteville on Tuesday, hosted over 200 students representing teams from kindergarten through 12th grade. The event aimed to promote education and address the needs of communities and the country through science projects. Cumberland County STEM Education Director Frank McKay emphasized the importance of such events in promoting STEM education.

The winning teams will have their science projects sent to the International Space Station as a “science payload.” One team, the Fly Guys, is investigating whether plant seeds can grow in outer space using a mystic tube separated into three sections. Another team is exploring the effects of perchlorates, a chemical compound found in Martian soil, on aerospace aluminum alloy. In previous years, students have had their experiments sent to the ISS as part of the program.

Denise Renfro, a teacher in Cumberland County, shared the success of her students who discovered the presence of perchlorates in Martian soil after investigating corrosion on the Mars rover’s wheels. These students were among the first to have their experiments sent to the ISS as part of the program. The winners of this year’s STEM Expo will be announced on Tuesday evening.

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