Jerome Middle School places first in Apollo 11 challenge, wins trip to space center

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JEROME, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) - A Magic Valley middle school recently won a state competition using drones and coding.

Students at Jerome Middle School do simulation of Apollo 11 mission

Last week, a few students traveled to Moscow to compete against five other schools, mimicking the Apollo 11 mission for its anniversary this year.

"They've been working really hard and they've done admirably," said Denise Baugh, the middle school's computer science teacher.

The Northwest Earth and Space Sciences Pipeline created the Apollo Next Giant Leap Student Challenge, where students had to the chance to recreate the landing using drones and robots.

"Our objective is to fly a drone with a hook or a magnet attached to a drone to pick up a lunar module on the moon or on the mat," explained Hannah Smith, a student.

"We had to fly it over specific areas avoiding craters and more in center of the circle, we had to land it, the more points we’d get," said Julio Meza, another student part of the group.

They then had a robot portion, where the robot was coded to go across the "moon" or mat.

"Dropping off a pay load, avoiding the craters again and returning back with the specific sample," Julio explained.

This was built and coded by the students in just less than two months.

"It was a lot of work, because we were new. Some of us knew how to fly and program, but it was very new because it was new coding and new controls and it was interesting because we had a lot of crashes, a lot of debugging and troubleshooting to work out but it was a lot of team effort," Hannah said.

The middle school was judged based on a few things.

"We came in first for our mission patch and we came in first for the social media posts... There were many prerequisites, pre-challenge requirements," Baugh said.

She said they received bonus points as well, because they used their drone to pick up the lunar module and brought it back to base, where that was a requirement for the high schools.

Before the night of the competition, Julio said they had a scare.

"When we woke up we started to work on it and we saw that was corrupted so we got to restore half of it and the other half we had to rebuild and we successfully did it," he said.

All their hard work paid off, all the way to Houston, Texas getting to visit NASA.

"We get to visit the Johnson Space Center and we get to also go to the other center out there and do a demo for NASA and the public," Baugh said.

The students will even get to meet their heroes at some events.

"I'm excited to see the astronauts that went to space and can tell stories about how they were in space," Julio said.

"I am like, over the moon about it, I can’t wait. I’ve always wanted to go there but I never thought it would be anything that I’d actually do," Hannah said.



 
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