Lee's Summit R-7 School District

Working to Make Deep Space Travel Safer (OUR SCHOOLS MAGAZINE: NOVEMBER 2020)

Each space venture has a price tag, but one element is priceless — the astronauts’ health and safety.

Tasked with designing headgear for protection against radiation during deep space exploration, five students from Lee’s Summit West High School won top recognition in NASA’s Wearable Equipment for Averting Radiation (WEAR) Challenge.

Made up of Kate Boosman, Hana Elkishawi, Safa Huq, Pierce Jacoby and Steicy Lopez (former LSW student), the team was one of four chosen nationwide.

The competition supports NASA’s Artemis program, which seeks to land the first woman and next man on the Moon by 2024 and launch sustainable lunar exploration by 2028 through NASA’s commercial and international partners.

Starting before winter break, the group worked through the COVID-19 school closure. The team identified hydrogen as effective protection against radiation, and they put water sacs into the headgear fabric. They submitted a video explanation to NASA in March and then improved the headgear and submitted another video in April.

NASA chose the team as one of four national finalists, and the students would have visited NASA to present the project if COVID-19 hadn’t changed plans.

“I don’t think any of us expected to make it this far just because our school has never done this competition, and there are some schools that compete in it a lot,” Kate Boosman says.

Kate praised LSR7 for providing a well-rounded education.

“There are so many class options that you can take, especially in high school,” Kate says “You can explore all sorts of different career possibilities you can have in the future.”