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

Pioneering Space Science: Douglas Byrd High School Hosts 3rd Annual STARward STEM Expo

On Tuesday, Douglas Byrd High School in Fayetteville hosted the 3rd annual STARward STEM Expo, attracting over 200 students from kindergarten to 12th grade. These students represented teams from across the community, eager to showcase their science projects and potentially see them sent into space as part of a “science payload.” Maura Richard, one of the participants, expressed her excitement about the opportunity to create her own designs and contribute to scientific discovery.

The significance of promoting STEM education was highlighted by Cumberland County STEM Education Director Frank McKay, who emphasized the importance of addressing the needs of communities and the country. The experiments conducted by students at the STEM Expo ranged from simple to complex, based on their interests and goals. One team, the Fly Guys, is investigating whether plant seeds can grow in outer space using a mystic tube separated into three sections.

In a previous year, a student experiment explored the effects of perchlorates, a chemical compound found in Martian soil, on aerospace aluminum alloy. 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 International Space Station as part of the program. The winners of this year’s STEM Expo will be announced on Tuesday evening.


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