International Space Station lifts off with local student work on board

Feb 22, 2017

Some students from the Buffalo Public and Niagara Falls City School Districts have returned from a trip to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. WBFO's Senior Reporter Eileen Buckley says the students won contests for their STEM projects. 

Some students from the Buffalo Public and Niagara Falls City School Districts returned from a trip to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

“It’s just been a really great experience,” said Elise Glahe, a sixth-grader at the Abate Elementary School in the Niagara Falls City School District.

Glahe designed a winning Mission Patch as part of the Student Spaceflights Experiments Program last year. 

Glahe's mission patch was lifted into orbit this weekend onboard the International Space Station.  

Elise Glahe, a 6th grader at the Abate Elementary School in the Niagara Falls City School District, winning Mission Patch is now in space.
Credit Photo from Niagara Falls City School website.

“You made something that, just by chance, has flown into outer space and that’s just such a crazy thing to think about,” Glahe declared. 

Elise Glahe, a 6th grader at the Abate Elementary School in the Niagara Falls City School District.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

Glahe and three other Buffalo Public school Students were welcomed back home by Western New York Congressman Brian Higgins Monday at the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library following their weekend trip. 

Three Buffalo students, known as the Spud Launchers, said their winning project, to try to grow potatoes in space is now in orbit.

Hamlin Park eighth-grader Gabriella Melendez noted how exciting it was “to know that our hard work is actually going into outer space.”  

Gabriella Melendez, Hamlin Park 8th grader in Buffalo.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

Melendez was the lead investigator of the project.

“It should be up there for I think six to eight weeks and then we get our results back, then that’s when you know everything is going to come together and we all find out the results that we’ve been waiting for," Melendez said.

The space launch was initially scrubbed over the weekend, but later, while they were driving through Florida, the rocket was launched and they caught it on the radio.

“It’s exactly 9:38 and that was our launch time and he pulled over, he turned up the radio and it goes ‘5, 4…’ and you just hear it and it’s like ready to take off and it just went and you heard the wind and you heard everybody’s excitement,” responded Melendez.

Buffalo school students Shaniylah Welch and Toriana Cornwell were co-investigators of the experiment.     

Toriana Cornwell, Buffalo student, was one of the co-investigators of the experiment.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

“It was pretty cool. We watched a video on all the astronauts and the fallen ones also,” said Cornwell.

“I’m looking forward to being an [astronomer]. I’m not too much of being in space – I’m more like research in space – you know, learn about the cosmos and Milky Way and all the galaxies,” Welch explained.

Shaniylah Welch, Buffalo student, co-investigator of project.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

The school districts have been teaming with WNY STEM HUB to promote STEM learning. Buffalo Schools Superintendent Kriner Cash called the young women an “inspiration” in promoting interest in STEM fields.

Teacher Andrew Franz was elated for his students.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

“We also need boys and girls of color to continue to pursue STEM fields as well,” remarked Cash.

Their teacher and advisor, Andrew Franz, was elated for his students.

“It took every inch of my being to not cry,” Franz said.