Rising Scholars Create NASA-Approved Hygiene Kits for Astronauts

Columbiana County Rising Scholars are truly reaching for the stars!

Program Director Dr. Jessica Paull just learned that the hygiene kits scholars made last year through the NASA HUNCH program are headed into space. They will be delivered to the International Space Station, but the specific date and mission has not been announced.

These hygiene kits are headed to the International Space Station, thanks to the hard work of Columbiana County’s Rising Scholars.

The scholars, in grades 7 through 10, received NASA training to learn best practices for quality assurance and proper safety documentation throughout the construction process. The items were required to be crafted to exact specifications and show the highest quality possible to be selected for use in space. If the standards had not been met, the items would be used by astronauts during simulation training exercises on the ground.

Paull explained that the hygiene kits are made of Nomax IIIA, a soft, flame-retardant fabric that feels like cotton and is flight-safe. They are similar to toiletry bags with removable Velcro pockets. “Astronauts can remove the pockets containing their toothbrushes and head towards the area where they can ‘flush out’ their mouths,” she noted.

Hygiene kits headed to space.

The scholars began working on this project last fall by completing training required by NASA. Jennifer Leonard, the Softgoods Lead for HUNCH, travelled from Texas to visit the scholars and start the process.

NASA provided two industrial sewing machines, as well as the patterns and material for the items. Before making hygiene kits, however, the scholars had to perfect their skills with a practice project that required each to make a composition notebook cover. This allowed the students to practice their skills on something they could keep.

According to the HUNCH website, most of the items created by high school students are used for training purposes. The items are crafted to exact specifications and must show the highest quality possible to have the best chance of reaching the International Space Station. This makes the students “more accountable for their output insuring tractability from start to finish.”

Nancy Hall is an aerospace engineer and research scientist with NASA who has also visited the Salem Campus to work with the scholars.

“Our scholars had the opportunity to talk to NASA representatives in person, not only about this specific project, but about internships and working for NASA, even if they don’t want to go to space,” Paull shared. “It’s been a fantastic experience for our students and this program.”

NASA’s High Schools United with NASA to Create Hardware (HUNCH) program was launched in 2003 with three schools. Today, more than 200 high schools across the country are involved with the project-based learning program through which students learn 21st century skills and have career opportunities by designing and fabricating real world-valued products for NASA (www.nasahunch.com).

This year, the scholars are working with NASA through its culinary program to learn how to prepare food items that are used in space. Stay tuned!

Cutline A: Shown are (from left) Dr. Jessica Paull, program director; Elizabeth Mostella, mentor; Grace Huddlestun, mentor; Aidan Frye; Nacy Hall, NASA HUNCH rep; Vixx Mohrbacher, Sylas Johnson, Victoria Johnson; Jose Garcia Jr.; Joy Carpenter, mentor; Nathan McMichael; and Morgan Hunt.

Cutline B: These hygiene kits are headed to the International Space Station, thanks to the hard work of Columbiana County’s Rising Scholars.

Cutline C: Hygiene kits headed to space.

POSTED: Monday, September 18, 2023 04:48 PM
Updated: Monday, September 18, 2023 04:54 PM