By LindaReilly

NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) has invited 10 Upper Darby High School students, members of the school’s Lunar Research Team, to the National Exploration Forum in California in July.


Nine members of a 10-member Lunar Research Team pose on the steps of the Upper Darby High School library. They will travel to California in July to present their research findings.

Gutama Biru, Chris DeMott, Galen Farmer, Daniel Gordon, Isabel Hunt, Kenneth Lin, Thomas Nguyen, Zach Thornton, Vince Tran and Most Yeasmin were honored at the Upper Darby School Board meeting for receiving national recognition.

Teachers Rosemary Burns and Josh Taffel introduced the students and described their accomplishment to receive the honors and invitation.

“The team presented their research via videoconference to scientists from NASA on April 15 and took top honors,” Manager of Media Services Dana Spino said.

Burns, hired in 2009 as a gifted support teacher, proposed offering a Lunar Research Team at the high school five years ago and garnered many awards for the data collected by different teams of students.

This year, the team placed first in the high school research competition and is the only high school invited to the national event to present findings.

“The team produced original scientific research during the school year,” Spino said. “Their research was entered into the Exploration of the Moon and Asteroids by Secondary Students contest managed by the Center for Lunar Science and Exploration. Working alongside their teachers and a scientist advisor, students undertake authentic open-inquiry research projects that engage them in the process of science.”

According to Spino, the Upper Darby team advanced to the national level after competitions against Commack High in New York, Kickapoo High in Missouri and Millard South High in Nebraska.

Students will present their work at the Exploration Science Forum held at the NASA Ames Research Center in California.

The team researched basalt thickness of mare (dark plains on the moon) tranquillitatis using two methods, the pre-mare method and post-mare method (measuring craters created from cooled lava).

Since the Lunar Research Team’s inception, the high school placed second behind a research team from Brown University in the 2012-2013 school years.

That year the team produced original scientific research during the school year investigating the possibility of locating lava tubes using temperature differences measured on the surface of the moon.

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