Cebuano teen part of young scientists who developed microgravity test-A A +A
Saturday, October 13, 2012
LAST week, an experiment developed by a group of eighth graders in California, USA was sent into space.
The experiment involves a rubber-like toy called Silly Putty.
The young scientists wants to find out if Silly Putty, a dilatant fluid that can be classified as liquid or solid, can be made in microgravity; and if so, how it would differ from one made on Earth.
One of the brains behind the experiment is Francis Luke Abastillas, a 14-year-old Cebuano from Lawaan, Talisay City.
Abastillas is part of a team of students from Lincoln Middle School and Santa Monica High School that designed 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?”
The project is part of the Students Spaceflight Experiments Program, which aims to enable students to design and propose real experiments to fly in low Earth orbit.
Abastillas, a freshman student at the Santa Monica High School, was born and raised in Cebu. His family moved to the US in 2006.
He studied at the Don Bosco Technology Center in Labangon, Cebu City and the St. Thomas Aquinas Montessori in Lawaan.
According to his father Roy, Abastillas was the lone recipient of the Science Medal when he finished his three years at the Lincoln Middle School.
“He is also enrolled in language studies in Chinese and French, which helps him and his collaborators in Science share their experiments to students outside the US,” Roy told Sun.Star Network Exchange in an e-mail.
Apart from Abastillas, the other collaborators of the Silly Putty experiment are Cindy Yen, Dean Chien, Matilda Loughmiller, Alex Soohoo, Roman Valentine and Jane Cho Watts.
Their experiment was flown to space last Oct. 7 aboard SpaceX Dragon, which was expected to reach the International Space Station last Wednesday.
Using materials provided by the students, astronauts will attempt to make Silly Putty in zero gravity. The experiment, which may take three weeks, will be shipped back to Earth once completed.
Apart from science, Abastillas loves music and does his own music compositions, his father said.
The young scientist plays flute for the Concert Band and the Santa Monica-Malibu School District Honor Band.
Since 2009, Abastillas has been playing at the Stairway of the Stars Concert, one of the most popular annual events in Santa Monica and Malibu, California.
Abastillas and his family visit their relatives in Lawaan every year during summer vacation.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 14, 2012.