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Four Orem sixth graders chosen to build their experiment with NASA

The four sixth graders stand together on chairs, smiling, with their box of tools from NASA on the table in front of them.
Cassidy Wixom
Parkside Elementary School students William O'Neill, Tanner Hakes, Drake Mayo and Thurl Brown smile with the box of parts from NASA to build their experiment.

Four Orem elementary students will get to work with NASA engineers after creating a winning experiment proposal.

The four sixth graders from Parkside Elementary School were one of 60 teams across the nation to win the NASA TechRise Student Challenge, which was open to sixth through 12th graders in the US. They were one of only two sixth grade teams to be chosen, and the only ones from Utah.

The Parkside Elementary students submitted an experiment proposal to measure the extent to which pollution in the ozone layer affects solar energy. They’re currently meeting with NASA engineers weekly on Zoom to help them build the experiment, and in May they and all the other teams will come together for a showcase of their experiments. Then, in the summer, the experiments will be launched into the atmosphere in a NASA-sponsored high-altitude balloon for a four-hour flight to collect data.

Duck is a general reporter and weekend announcer at UPR, and is studying broadcast journalism and disability studies at USU. They grew up in northern Colorado before moving to Logan in 2018, so the Rocky Mountain life is all they know. Free time is generally spent with their dog, Monty, listening to podcasts, reading or wishing they could be outside more.