Burke (left) and Taylor
prepare their experiment for its trip to the International
Space Station. (Photo provided)
As sixth graders, Citizen Potawatomi Nation tribal member Addison
Taylor and her science partner Mayzie Burke won the chance to send
their experiment to the International Space Station. The two became
friends after teaming up in class at Summit Christian Academy in
Broken Arrow, Oklahoma.
Their STEAM teacher Stephanie Bradley focuses on curriculum that
brings together science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics.
She encouraged her students to enter the annual Tulsa Research Kids
competition. In 2019, the Tulsa Regional STEM Alliance worked with
the DreamUp organization to offer three Oklahoma teams the opportunity
to send their projects to the ISS.
"It was the chance of a lifetime," Bradley said. "Not many times
can you watch students release something into space. We do projects
all the time, and sometimes you're like, 'OK, put it in the trash.'
And this time, we get to say, 'OK, put it on a rocket. We're going
to shoot it to space,' and I'm so glad."
Port to port
Taylor and Burke both share interests in science and outer space
and decided to enter the contest. Taylor's father works at the Port
of Muskogee off the Arkansas River in Muskogee, Oklahoma, where
semi-trucks, barges and trains load and unload. One day, they were
discussing a product he often uses called WearFlex a synthetic
"If something goes wrong, he uses WearFlex, and it helps fix cracks,
leaks and holes, and tires and belts and all sorts of stuff," Taylor,
a Bertrand family descendant, said.
The students spoke with the company that produces WearFlex to learn
the product's chemical makeup and more. Company representatives
supported the duo by attending some of their demonstrations, and
they remain in contact today.
Aerospace engineer and
NASA astronaut Col. Paul Lockhart presents Tribal member Addison
Taylor (right) and
Mayzie Burke medals for winning the Tulsa Research Kids competition
in January 2020. (Photo provided)
She and Burke chose WearFlex for its potential practical application
in space. They won several competitions in a row with their idea
and advanced to the finals in their age group. After presenting
their project for the final time on Dec. 6, 2019, the girls found
out they won in January 2020.
Burke looks forward to the chance to see "how (WearFlex) formed
in space compared to how it formed down here, to see even if it
NASA initially scheduled the flight for the summer of 2020; however,
the pandemic delayed it several times throughout the year. On Dec.
6, 2020, the experiment launched on a Falcon 9 rocket as part of
a service mission to the International Space Station a full
year after the Tulsa Research Kids event.
"When we first found out we're actually going to space, we were
so excited. And then over time, we just got more excited to finally
go," Taylor said.
She, Burke, their families and Bradley all saw the rocket launch
at the Kennedy Space Center outside of Orlando, Florida.
"As soon as it actually happened, I was like, 'Wow, we're really
going!' because as soon as we drove to the airport, it was hard
to believe that we were actually going because of all of the times
it got pushed back," Burke said.
Now in seventh grade, the students enjoy their success but remember
the bigger picture.
"We mostly want our project to help astronauts in space," Taylor
Growth on earth
The trip to Florida also marked Burke's first time on an airplane,
a trip to Universal Studios, time at the beach and much more. Due
to the launch's numerous postponements, the group became better
"I thought our families kind of (became) like one big family kind
of together, even Miss Bradley," Taylor said.
Bradley and both girls' parents helped them prepare for each competition,
which included repetition of their presentations to improve their
public speaking skills. Six judges oversaw the final round and decided
whose experiments went to space.
"Whenever we first got up there, at first (I) was nervous," Burke
said. "And then once you just get into it, and then everyone is
just used to you. You are used to just talking."
Practicing helped Taylor as well.
"It felt more calm, like I know what I'm doing and won't get stumbled
I have Mayzie to help support me," she said.
Both Bradley and Taylor's mom, Chanda, felt they watched the duo
become more outspoken throughout the year. Taylor somewhat overcame
her shyness while learning how to present in front of a panel.
"To see how much these girls have grown, even how their faces have
changed. ... You can just tell they're more mature, the way that
they speak from beginning to end. They have grown so much. It's
amazing to see," Bradley said.
Taylor and Burke believe in hard work and positivity.
"You have to use your critical thinking skills to figure out stuff
that you can put together that is helpful," Burke said. "You can
do it anywhere, and even how old you are; you can always think outside
the box," Taylor said. "You can do it, no matter what."
The girls received their experiment back at the end of January
2021, and it showed positive results for how the substance performed
at the space station.
"We hope WearFlex will be a product NASA will purchase and be able
to use in the future," they said.
As they continue their project, their eyes remain on the skies.
Taylor hopes to contribute to discoveries in outer space.
"We haven't explored all of it, and you never know what's out there,"
To view footage of the rocket launch from Kennedy Space Center
from Summit Christian Academy, visit cpn.news/falcon9.