Noli Indian School & JP Aerospace Set To Launch A Native American Basket Into Space In An “Out Of This World” Science Project
Published September 25, 2015
SAN JACINTO, CALIFORNIA—Students of the Soboba Band of Luiseno Indians’ Noli Indian School are exploring what it is like to be a scientist in an exciting aeronautics experiment hosted by JP Aerospace. Two classes of seventh and eighth grade science students are participating in the project that will launch an authentic Native American basket into space on Oct. 4, 2015. The basket, made of Yucca Fiber, Juncus and Deer Grass, and standing a mere five inches tall, will soar above the earth into space as an offering to their ancestors. Cultural teacher, Mr. Kim Marcus, has woven the basket by hand and given the name “Tukmal Tuupayum”, a Luiseno term meaning “Basket to symbolize connecting the Heavens and Earth.” to the mission. The basket will also receive a traditional Luiseno blessing, before setting off for the stars.
Seventy ping-pong balls will also accompany the basket on its voyage. These ping-pong balls (called PongSats), will hold the students’ research projects. Each ping-pong ball contains an item of the student’s choosing, which will be exposed to the elements and harsh conditions of near-space. Upon the return of the spacecraft, the students will then study the impact that exposure to the elements of space has made on their object. Seventh grade student, Poe Pacheco, placed two pennies and corn kernels in his PongSat. When asked what he predicted would happen he stated, “I think when the corn grows, it will be weird.”
The students are sending an array of objects including a paint ball, a Lucky Charms’ marshmallow, and different types of seeds.
According to Noli Indian School Principal, Donovan Post; “The Project is geared towards getting the students interested in science, space and technology.” Mr. Post continued, “The coolest part is that we are able to involve not just the science classes, but art, calculus, physics, computers, culture class, and even the agriculture class, who will be planting the seeds once they return from space.”
Noli will be the first Native American Indian School to send an authentic woven basket into space while conducting scientific experiments at the same time.
7th Grade Noli Indian School students prepare their “PongSat” ping-pong balls for launch
Thanks to the nonprofit JP Aerospace, the project that was once only imagined, has become reality. As reported by John Powell, president of JP Aerospace, “We are really excited to be flying the experiments from the Noli Indian School. We have had students fly with us from all over the world, but not very many from our home state of California. It’s great to have the home team flying. Also they will be the first Native American School group to fly with us.” Powell continued, “The program is called PongSat. In it we fly students’ projects to the edge of space on research balloons. We’ve been running it for ten years now. The goal is to get students inspired by science and space. After all, if a student can fly to space they can do anything.”