Winslow and Readfield School teams win first Cubesat design competition

Winslow School’s Cubesat team student Charles Byers, 13, welds a thin electrical wire on Wednesday, June 21, before the wire was attached to a mylar satellite the students were building. Rich Abrahamson / Morning Sentinel File

Winslow Public Schools took home the overall and best performing award while a Readfield College won its overall division in the University of Southern Maine’s inaugural Cubesat Design Competition on Saturday.

Competing in the high school division, the design of Winslow’s five-member team focused on the deployment of the solar sail. A cubesat, short for cube satellites, is a small research spacecraft weighing less than three pounds.

It captured the solar wind with a highly reflective material, sailing despite atmospheric pressures.

Winslow’s team consisted of three rising high schoolers (Yang, Zack St. Pierre, Steven Sloat), a sophomore (Nathan Hatt) and an eighth grader (Charles Byers). Ginny Brackett, Winslow’s Gifted and Talented Program Advisor, oversaw the team. Other finalists in the high school division were Falmouth and Portland High Schools and Fryeburg Academy.

The finalist teams, including a college division, kicked off their projects on Saturday from a high-altitude balloon belonging to the university. The balloon peaked at over 100,000 feet and the contest organizers recovered the cubesat designs in Wiscasset.

Marancook Middle School, which is part of Regional School Unit 38 in Readfield, won the all-around for the Middle School Division. The winning teams will receive trophies to display in schools.

The Maranacook college students chose to test the algae from Maine, to see if they could maintain a stable environment in space. The idea for the experiment was to see if the plant can reproduce as a viable food source for astronauts.

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