Pennfield Students Win NASA TechRise Challenge

Pennfield Middle School Wins NASA TechRise Student Challenge
Posted on 02/02/2022
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Students at Pennfield Middle School were selected as winners of the NASA TechRise Student Challenge. Their project, “Nori Strate (Seaweed Based Substrate for E.T. Travel)” will fly on board a suborbital rocket, to be launched in 2023.

The Pennfield team is comprised of 6 students in 9th grade led by Jeffrey Testa, a technology education teacher. Pennfield is one of 57 winning teams selected by TechRise to launch an experiment. Students submitted a proposal detailing their plan and timeline for the experiment. Their experiment will test how the conditions on launch, microgravity, and orbital reentry affect a custom-made substrate designed to grow plants and crops in space with ease. The goal is to find a means of agriculture off of Earth to sustain colonization of other planets.

The Pennfield team will receive $1,500 to build their experiment, a 3-D printed flight box to build their experiment inside, and an assigned spot to test it on a NASA-sponsored Blue Origin New Shepard Rocket. Winning teams also receive technical support and office hours with experts from the Future Engineers team while building their experiment. 

“I am incredibly proud of the hard work my students have put into this project,” said Jeffrey Testa, Pennfield teacher and leader of the team. “This is a wonderful opportunity to explore the potential of agriculture in space while providing students with materials and resources they might not otherwise have in the classroom.”

The NASA TechRise Student Challenge invites students to design, build, and launch experiments on suborbital rockets and high-altitude balloons. The challenge aims to inspire a deeper understanding of Earth’s atmosphere, space exploration, coding, electronics, and the value of test data. 

For more information on NASA Techrise Student Challenge, please visit