NASA launches rocket carrying creation from Arizona high school students

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(Source: NASA) (Source: NASA)
(Source: NASA) (Source: NASA)
(Source: Kim Ruhrer) (Source: Kim Ruhrer)

A space experiment was devised by a group of five high school students from Gilbert. They competed to have their experiment idea flown to space. They won and their project launched Sunday. 

"It's just crazy to think that something we thought of, that we put our devotion and hard work into, was being launched into space right in front of us."

At only 15 years old, Abi Youngker is experiencing something most people never will: watching her design rocket into space.

“It was incredible. It was so cool! I was just standing there with my mouth open like is this real.”

Youngker and her group of four other teammates came up with the winning experiment during a space camp earlier this year. Abi explained the process while speaking at a NASA press conference prior to the launch. 

“With the help of our STEM teacher and the 2015 movie The Martian, we came up with the idea of plant growth in space.” 

Photos were shown of what their design looks like. The students hope if their experiment of growing micro clovers is successful, it will lead to even bigger things. 

“If it was able to grow in the micro gravity environment, it's a possibility that we could use these to inhabit other planets. It's kinda broad but that's the idea of it.”

Early Sunday morning, they watched as their hard work took off on its journey into space.

“I looked around at my teammates and they all had the same expression I did. They were just in awe, their mouths hanging open, just staring at this cool fireball that lit up the clouds. It's incredible to think that our little micro clovers are now orbiting the earth. My little plant heart melted.”

Youngker’s mom, Kim Ruhrer, says it was a surreal moment.

“[To] watch this enormous rocket launch and know that all of these kids’ hard work was part of this, it brought me to tears out of excitement.”

And when asked about being the only girl involved in the project, Abi says it was awesome and has made her even more excited about her future.

“It's great being a girl and wanting to be in this field, because I stand out like 'Oh my gosh, there's a girl here.' Yeah and I know what I’m doing.” 

Those micro clovers are set to arrive at the International Space Station early Tuesday morning. 

Abi hopes to become an aerospace engineer.

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LiAna EnriquezLiAna Enriquez is a native of Arizona. She attended Marcos de Niza High School in Tempe, Arizona.

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LiAna Enriquez

She then went on to Arizona State University. She graduated summa cum laude from the University’s prestigious, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism with a degree in Journalism/Mass Communications with an emphasis in broadcasting.

LiAna started her news career with KTVK-TV as an intern. She loved it so much she never left! She has been with the station for fourteen years. Currently, she is the consumer investigative producer for Arizona’s top rated consumer segment, 3 On Your Side and is also a general assignment reporter. LiAna also reported for the station’s top rated high school sports show, ‘The Varsity Zone’ for five years.

In her free time LiAna enjoys cooking, watching movies, quading, and traveling. But her absolute favorite thing to do, is to hang out with her husband and beautiful daughters. She is a softball mom. She loves the beach and waterfalls! Her favorite team is the Arizona Cardinals and of course, the Sun Devils.

Life motto: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)

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