Students from area middle schools gathered Thursday to send a "marshmallow man" into space.
Middle School engineering teams in 30 STEM Scholar classrooms in 20 states worked to determine the maximum weight Marvin, the first Marshmallow Astronaut, can support on Earth.
The students cheered at the watch party for the Blue Origins Space Flight as the first “Mallownaut” returned to Earth’s atmosphere.
The students used this data to design a suit that’s heavy enough to protect Marvin, but won’t crush him on lift-off or re-entry.
Through the National STEM Scholars Program offered in conjunction with The Center for Gifted Studies at WKU, SKyTeach, and The National Stem Cell Foundation, the Mallownaut and the suit were launched into space on a suborbital flight on Blue Origin’s New Shepard spacecraft.
Kerrie McDaniel, Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology at WKU and the Content Director for the National STEM Scholar Program, says “Our hope is that we can get more kids in Middle School interested in science and engineering so we can increase the number of scientists and engineers we have in the future in the United States.”
Rico Tyler, Master Teacher with the SKyTeach Program at WKU and Project Director of the “Mallownaut” Project, says “What we’ve tried to do here is to build a long term project that's beyond the resources of the teachers we’re working with, but together we can do, that lets kids do challenging activities, to predict the outcome of a pretty exciting event, which is the launch we did today.”
Now that Marvin has returned to Earth, he will be collected and mailed back to WKU.
The data will be collected, graphed, compared, and used as the basis for future projects with the program.