Garage science project lands sisters an opportunity to work with NASA
SEATTLE (KCPQ) - Scientists around the world are getting ready for the total solar eclipse on August 21st. The continental U.S hasn't had a total eclipse since 1979.
As the solar eclipse approaches, two very young scientists are heading to Wyoming this week to work on the Eclipse Ballooning project with NASA and the University of Montana.
They're elementary school sisters from Seattle, whose garage science project has now landed them among 54 teams across the country that'll gather data for NASA during the eclipse.
Tinkering in the garage on a sunny afternoon, sisters Rebecca and Kimberly Yeung are perfecting their summer project.
"This is a Loki Lego launcher and this is a spacecraft we've launched twice before," said Rebecca Yeung.
During their first launch, the girls said their balloon went up to 78,000 feet. A second launch cleared 101,000 feet.
Now preparing for their third launch, the girls are heading to Wyoming to be in the path of totality during the total solar eclipse.
They'll use their space craft to capture images and data for NASA.
"We're hoping to see if we can capture the moon's shadow over the Earth during the eclipse," said Kimberly Yeung.
Their launcher was designed by 10-year-old Kimberly.
"Triangles are the strongest structure," said Kimberly as she explained the design process that took her three weeks to create.
The launcher is outfitted with a solar panel, a flight computer, a Go-Pro camera and a GPS.
"It has a GPS on it, which tracks latitude, longitude, altitude, speed, direction, and we have temperature, pressure, voltage currents and power," explained 12-year-old Rebecca Yeung.
Past launches surprised the sisters on how successful their project plans turned out.
"The temperature varied with the different layers of the atmosphere," said Rebecca Yeung.
The experiments are a family affair, their father shoots the video, the girls launch the balloon and back home they analyze the data, develop new hypothesis and create more popsicle sticks with Legos and cats.
"We named it the Loki Lego Launcher because Loki was out late cat and we put a picture of him attached to a popsicle stick," said Kimberly Yeung.
Their Go-Pro footage caught Loki soaring high above the Earth.
A summer science project that started in a Seattle garage also caught the attention of the White House.
"It has really amazed me," said Kimberly Yeung.
The girls were invited to meet former President Barack Obama at last year's White House Science Fair.
"He's a huge deal. He talks to world leaders, and he was taking the time to talk to us. We're just little girls who launched a weather balloon," said Rebecca Yeung, beaming with excitement as she remembered the encounter.
Siblings with a passion for science, together inspiring little girls everywhere that you're never too young to reach for the stars.
"It's really nice to show other girls that you can do this too," said Kimberly Yeung.