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Gatton Academy has partnered with the National Stem Cell Foundation to launch the world’s first marshmallow astronaut into outer space.

The 2018 National STEM Scholar Class chose space travel as a theme and middle school students around the country have worked to make a spacesuit for the marshmallow named Marvin, according to a press release from the National Stem Cell Foundation. They were tasked with making a suit that could sustain the marshmallow’s weight on Earth while not being too heavy that it would crush it on liftoff or re-entry.

The STEM Scholar Class is a program that welcomes 10 teachers to Gatton for a week long training session that teaches them ways to excite their students about science. Eric Gurevich, the executive director of Programs and Communications for the National Stem Cell Foundation, said the STEM field needs more interest for the future.

“Soon there’s going to be a shortage of highly skilled people to work in those fields,” Gurevich said.

The launch took place from the Blue Origin launch facility in Texas on Thursday. Marvin was carried to outer space in a NanoLab the size of a Kleenex box aboard the New Shepard suborbital rocket. The middle school engineering teams in 30 STEM Scholar classrooms shared data to predict the maximum weight of the suit and the NanoLab had cameras that monitored Marvin and data from the launch.

The purpose of it was to address “Next Generation Science Standards” related to material physical pressures and property. While the students predicted the maximum amount of weight that can be used for the spacesuit in order not to crush Marvin, scientists at Gatton also made predictions. The data was then be collected to be compared and graphed to use for future projects.

Rico Tyler, a SKyTEACH Master Teacher and Co-Director of the National STEM Scholar Program, said in the press release that invoking an interest in science for middle school students is important because of high demand STEM jobs in the future.

News reporter Natasha Breu can be reached at 270-745-6011 and natasha.breu597@topper.wku.edu. Follow Natasha on Twitter @nnbreu.