Isle of Hope K8 students competed in the National Student
Astronaut Challenge Finals held at NASA in Florida earlier this month. The students had qualified in third place
competing against teams from Miami to Seattle at a Run-Off Competition last
fall to select the best 15 Middle School teams from across the nation to
compete at Nationals.
The students spent months practicing 12-18 hours a week,
including many weekends to prepare for the four challenges they would face over
the three-day competition. The four
challenges included a Design Challenge, Engineering Challenge, Space Shuttle
Atlantis Simulator Challenge, and a Landing Challenge.
the Design Challenge, students were asked to research and build a prototype
(using specific materials) that would help decrease injuries from footholds on
the International Space Station. Over several months, Chyler Ross, Megan
Nguyen, Aisha Rhenals and Ally Arnsdorff, along with the rest of the team,
researched the injuries sustained by astronauts, talked to experts in the
field, including engineers and Commander Robert Shane Kimbrough, an astronaut
for ISS Mission #49 and #50. Students
wrote a research paper on their findings, created a slide show, and built a
the Engineering Challenge, students were divided into a mission control team
and a team aboard the Space Lab on the ISS.
There were four components that had to be worked through…lack of
technology for communication/relay between team members, broken circuits that
had to be fixed where one team had the circuits and another team had the
directions, computation of Ohms Law, and the ability to analyze the problem,
design a solution, and understand (in that scenario) whether the problem had
truly been corrected.
the Landing Challenge, all six members of the team had to land the shuttle.
They were randomly selected for each portion of the challenge - meaning
all six participants had to know how to both land the craft in multiple
scenarios, as well as communicate how to land the craft.
Space Shuttle Atlantis Simulator Challenge includes a pre-launch checklist,
launch into orbit, deorbiting procedures, and landing at a designated location
lasting almost an hour from beginning to end. To participate, students had to spend
an extraordinary amount of time learning the schematics of the Shuttle, as well
as the location of all the switches. They had to learn to collaborate and work
together strategically to isolate problems and repair them, all while flying
The #Fiddlernauts received the gold medal for the Landing
Challenge and were crowned National Champions.
The students received the bronze medal for the Space Shuttle Simulator
2019-2020 #Fiddlernauts are coached by Mr. Bob Nickels, Mrs. Carol Nickels, Dr.
Barbara Serianni (Georgia Southern University), and Ms. Carolyn Rethwisch (Isle
of Hope School). The Rotary Club of
Skidaway Island provided a simulator for the team to practice on this year. Isle
of Hope School, PTA, family and friends donated generously to make this dream a
reality; and Mr. John Hopper, CEO of Bobcat of Savannah, donated to the team to
make their journey possible. Their
generosity is much appreciated!