In its first year, a CA club for student inventors reached new heights — literally. The scientific experiments proposed by Spark co-head James Gow ’20, with the support of his fellow co-head Connor Dayton ’20, earned coveted spots aboard a NASA sounding rocket and zero-pressure research balloon through the Cubes in Space program, a global competition for students aged 11 to 18 to design and propose experiments to send into space or a near-space environment.
Cubes in Space received thousands of entries from more than 30 countries. Only 60 experiments were selected to fly in NASA’s Terrier-Improved Orion Rocket, which launched in June from the Wallops Flight Facility in Chincoteague, Va. James and Connor traveled there, meeting NASA engineers, and teachers and students and their families from as far away as Brazil and Ecuador. “It was a truly international conference for the students,” James says.
At the Student Exhibit Expo at Wallops, participants presented their experiments before more than 350 students, teachers, and NASA officials. Setting out to discover whether exposure to radiation and microgravity affects seed germination and growth, James and Connor then watched the rocket carrying their seeds from green beans, red beans, and corn blaze into space.
James collected data from that experiment over the summer and has been analyzing it this fall. His preliminary observations suggest that the exposure to space radiation stimulates seed germination. The seeds sent into space germinated faster than control seeds on Earth — one corn seed even germinated after just one day. However, exposer to space radiation has also stunted the growth of the seeds used in the experiment; some wilted without apparent cause. James will continue to closely analyze the data that Spark collected.
The second experiment that Spark conducted through the Cubes in Space program hypothesized that data on USB drives exposed to radiation and microgravity would not be distorted when kept in solid-state storage. After more than a month of waiting for favorable launch conditions, the research balloon — an impressive vehicle as large as a football stadium and as tall as the Washington Monument when fully inflated — launched on September 23 from NASA’s Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility in Fort Sumner, N.M. Aboard the balloon, which rose as high as 125,235 feet, was Spark’s experiment, along with 99 other experiments from Cubes in Space. James and Connor are involving current members of Spark, and recruiting new ones, to help analyze the data from the research balloon.
This Wednesday, September 25, at 4 p.m. in the Upper Stu-Fac classroom, Spark will host the first presentation in a SparkTalk speaker series. Officials from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Dominic Keating, USPTO director, and Jesus Hernandez, a patent attorney, will present a Patents 101 webinar.
In addition to the Cubes in Space program, during the 2018–19 academic year, Spark club members took part in the Google Science Fair, Toshiba/NSTA ExploraVision Science Competition, and the Massachusetts State Science Fair. James and Connor describe the club’s mission and goals thus: “Stay curious; be innovative! Solve the world’s problems, one invention at a time.”
View the launch of the NASA sounding rocket containing the Cubes in Space experiments below and the .
Concord Academy Welcomes Alumnae/i Back to Campus for the Annual Alumnae/i and Students of Color Conference
On February 22, Concord Academy hosted its annual Alumnae/i and Students of Color Conference. More than 20 individuals — 12 students and 11 alumnae/i — took part in the event. A panel discussion took up the topics of race and equity at CA across decades, and in small group breakout sessions, alumnae/i and students discussed the influence of a CA education on the college experience, considered a sense of belonging at CA, and reminisced about what drew them to this school. View a group photo.
On Friday, February 21, and Saturday, February 22, the Concord Academy community enjoyed the winter 2020 mainstage production Indecent, by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Paula Vogel. The play is inspired by the true events surrounding the controversial 1923 Broadway debut of Sholem Asch’s God of Vengeance, a play seen by some as a seminal work of Jewish culture and by others as an act of traitorous libel. Indecent follows the history of the drama and the path of the artists who risked their careers and lives to perform it. The CA cast worked with a dialect coach, a folk-dance specialist, and a podcaster who researched her grandmother’s Holocaust experience. View photos from the show.
On January 30, the Community and Equity Office presented an assembly by Alex Myers, a writer, a speaker, an English teacher at Phillips Exeter, and an advocate for transgender rights. Myers spoke with CA students about how his own experience informed his recent “coming-of-gender” novel, Continental Divide, about how norms of gender expression have changed over time, and about how transgender people have been represented in various historical eras and today. Read more >