Cebuano part of team that sends experiment to space-A A +A
Tuesday, October 9, 2012
A GROUP of young scientists in the United States has developed a microgravity experiment that was sent last October 7 to the International Space Station (ISS), America's newest national laboratory, aboard a commercial supply ship.
But who would have thought that one of those young scientists who wanted to find out if a "Silly Putty" can be made in microgravity is a proud Cebuano?
Francis Luke Abastillas, a 14-year-old from Talisay City, Cebu, is one of the collaborators of the experiment entitled "What is the effect of microgravity on the formation of Silly Putty and how do the characteristics of that Silly Putty differ from the Silly Putty made on Earth?"
He is part of a team of students from Lincoln Middle School and Santa Monica High School in California who wanted to determine if Silly Putty can be made in microgravity, and how would its characteristics differ from the one made on Earth.
In an article posted on the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) Community Network at http://ssep.ncesse.org, Abastillas and other members of the team -- principal investigator Cindy Yen and collaborators Dean Chein, Matilda Loughmiller, Alex Soohoo, Roman Valentine, and Jane Cho Watts -- described Silly Putty as a "mysterious yet entertaining non-Newtonian dilatant fluid, which can be classified as a solid or liquid."
Their experiment was flown last Sunday by astronauts aboard SpaceX Dragon capsule, which the US successfully launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
The SpaceX Dragon, carrying 1,000 pounds (453.6 kilograms) of cargo, including food and clothes for the astronauts aboard the ISS, is now on its way to the station. It is expected to reach the orbiting lab Wednesday and will remain there for nearly three weeks before returning to Earth.
The experiment made by Abastillas and his team will be placed by the astronauts in zero gravity. It will be shipped back to Earth once the experiment is completed, and the students will determine its properties to see how it differs from the regular Silly Putty.
Abastillas, according to his father, not just took up Science, but also enrolled in language studies, particularly in Chinese and French, to help him and his teammates share their experiments to students outside the US.
"Francis Luke was the lone recipient of the Science Medal when he finished his three years at Lincoln Middle School (same school district) last school year and continued his High School in Santa Monica," his father, Roy, told Sun.Star.
He also said that outside Science and Mathematics, his son loves music and does his own music compositions to be shared with his friends and classmates at school.
"He plays flute for the Concert Band and Santa Monica-Malibu School District Honor Band...He has been playing during the Stairway of the Stars Concert since 2009. This event remains one of the most popular annual events for 63 years in both the cities of Santa Monica and Malibu, as it spotlights the talents of the district's music students and becomes a major step to get involved in the music industry that supports the film business both in Hollywood and Disneyland music-video production," his father proudly said.
Roy told Sun.Star that they were all born in Cebu until he, his wife Kathleen and son Francis moved to the US back in January 2006.
"We were actively involved in our humble way in our local community where we were residing in Lawa-an 1, Talisay City, Cebu. Francis Luke grew up and received part of his initial value and academic formation at Don Bosco Technology Center in Labangon, Cebu City and St. Thomas Aquinas Montessori in Lawaa-an, Talisay City," he said.
The father also said they visit Cebu every year, particularly during summer vacation.
He said Francis Luke still speaks and understand Cebuano and "loves to hear and learn Cebuano jokes and local event stories from his relatives."
His grandparents are still in Lawa-an, his father said.
"He still keeps his values and identity being a born in Cebu while totally adapted to his new life when he moved in California six years ago," Roy said of his son.
Francis Luke team's Silly Putty was submitted in a local Flight Experiment Competition that included over 300 competitors.
According to SSEP, more than 1,000 proposals were submitted from student teams, and the "Silly Putty" experiment was among those chosen to be flown to the ISS.
The competition was hosted by the SSEP and the ISS. (Sunnex)