Tuba City Boarding School wins national honors in NASA program

TUBA CITY ----A team of eighth grade Tuba City Boarding School students won First Place in the Nation for the NASA Student Involvement Program Competition: Wat-ching the Earth Change.

Sheldon Nez, Jackie Lange, Candice Chee, and Tanisha Atcitty, won with their entry: "The Effects of Flash Floods: Changes in Landforms, Humidity Changes, and Changes in River Levels." They were honored and awarded at their eighth grade graduation ceremony on May 25.

Barry Lutz, Director of the NAU/NASA Space Grant Program gave out their awards. They did this project in their Gifted and Talented Class and their teacher was Jacquelyn Drewett.

To begin their research, the students created a flood damage simulation using rocks, sand, and Monopoly toy houses. In a box top they built a cliff similar to those around Tuba City and then placed toy houses on the sand below the cliff. Everything was carefully measured so that they could remeasure and document the changes after a bucket of water was slowly poured onto the cliff top. Before and after photographs were included and the changes were analyzed.

Next they went on a fieldtrip to set up their "real-life" flash flood study area. This was done in a wash near their school. They staked out the research area, took measurements and took many photographs so that they could compare the changes that would occur after a flashflood.

This has been a good year for flashfloods and not too much later they went back to measure, photograph and analyze the changes.

Not only did they record the physical effects of flash floods, they also kept records of the humidity changes before and after the floods occurred. They had hypothesized that the humidity would increase on the days before and be the highest on the flood day and then gradually fall after the flood. This proved to be correct.

Graphs were made to show the rise and decline of the humidity for each flash flood event. An analysis of the rise of the Little Colorado River during flash floods was included in their research. They ended their study by using NASA satellite images of the river changes in Florida during this past Hurricane Season. The changes were highlighted, measured, and explained.

NSIP is a national program that encourages studies in math, science, technology and geography through five competition categories for students in the third through twelfth grades. This year there were more than 2,860 entries.

Students engage in research that promotes critical thinking, problem solving skills, communication and collaboration skills. The entries are judged at the NASA Centers by teams of scientists, engineers, educators and journalists.

The team has also won an all expenses paid trip to the NASA Space Academy that will take place the first week in August.

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