At this year’s Science and Engineering Fair of Houston, Space Center Houston was proud to award twelve students with the first-ever Research and Innovation in Space Exploration (RISE) awards.

These projects demonstrated exceptional work and potential in two different divisions.

In the senior division, Kristyn Delgado’s project, The Use of Biometric Sensors and Neural Networks to Determine a Person’s Cognitive Workload, has direct applications to evaluating mental strain on astronauts during long-duration space flights.  

Two senior teams showed how much can be accomplished by working together. Saad Nadeem and Muhammad Zain were inspired to create a cheap and effective means of helping hospitals in struggling countries to find the veins of patients after a terrible experience suffered by their grandmother. Audrey Weakley and Connor Gibson delved into the world of medical fabrics to discover the most hygienic cloth for use in hospitals. Both of these projects have the potential to help astronauts who are exploring other planets.

The big winner in the senior division was Siddharth Krishnakumar. He is refining his design of a wearable that is meant to detect when a person’s balance is compromised or they have experienced a fall and need to contact someone for assistance.

There is a lot of potential in the junior division. Rumaisa Jesani used her cultural connection to Mehndi, a process of tattooing with the henna plant, to discover a new, effective way to block UV radiation.

Faith Ebel used her knowledge of plant biology to determine what may be the best way to add biomass to the Martian soil, thus taking a step towards creating a plan to terraform Mars.

These final two projects shared the top prize for the division. Lorelei Binford demonstrated a correlation between reaction time and the strength and elasticity of one’s short-term memory. Binford created the app used for testing herself.

Stephanie Trujillo, Gissele Rodriguez, and Cristina Juarez repurposed an old record player to approximate microgravity while attempting to identify the best plants to grow during long duration space missions. These remarkable young women are alumni of our Girls STEM program here at Space Center Houston.

We are proud of the ingenuity and resourcefulness of every participant in this year’s fair. We try to place all generations on the STEM pathway every day.