Engineering Students Named National NASA Hunch BioHealth Program Finalists
Four engineering students from de Toledo High School in Los Angeles – sophomores Jack T., Aaron M., Harrison B., and Ben R. – have been named as official Finalists for the prestigious national NASA Hunch BioHealth Program.
With this recognition, the students were invited to Space Center Houston on April 19, 2023 to present their own research findings to NASA mission scientists and biomedical engineers, along with a patented and operational prototype product design focused on mitigating the varied mental health issues expected to arise during future attempts to establish human colonies on the moon and/or Mars. The students’ “Pinacal” device is specifically engineered to offset the disruptions to the circadian rhythms experienced by astronauts whose 24 hour cycle has a new day/night every 90 minutes.
The NASA Hunch program is a nationwide initiative to empower and inspire young people through project-based learning focused on inculcating 21st century skills and giving students the opportunity to launch their careers through participation in the design and fabrication of real-world, valued products for NASA.
The four students have been independently involved in this research since they were in 6th grade as part of the local Abraham Joshua Heschel School robotics team. Since then, they have competed in Uruguay in the First Lego League World Championships, and worked with the director of the University of Southern California’s Space Engineering Research Center to further develop their patented project. At de Toledo High, the students’ work continues to be encouraged within the school’s own robotics facilities.
“We will continue to support our four engineering students as they work with NASA bioengineers and astronauts,” said Ellen Howard, de Toledo High School’s principal. “We are incredibly proud that these students have now been invited to Space Center Houston to discuss opportunities to possibly have their design built for testing on the International Space Station!”