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West Oso student trading the classroom for NASA

Posted at 7:11 PM, Sep 05, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-05 20:11:46-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — One student at West Oso Junior High is making his mark in the science world. Eighth grader Chad Aguilar is shooting for the stars with his science fair project, taking it all the way up to NASA.

Aguilar has been involved with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) all throughout junior high. He’s even competed at state levels for both STEM and science competitions. Last year his project was about growing plants on Mars.

"The idea was to send two rovers to Mars. One to carry sample and data and the other to carry plants ... We’re going to pick up the dirt from mars and bring it back to the space station and overview it and see what plants can grow up there, so we can soon plant edibles that we can eat up there," Aguilar said.

Although Aguilar didn’t place in the State science fair this past school year, attending a STEM camp this summer gave him a chance to try again.

"He was learning from the experts on those different things and that’s when we brought in the expert from NASA, and that’s when Chad kind of came in and hijacked the session," West Oso Junior High STEM teacher Christina Campos said.

At the camp, Aguilar shared his research with a NASA and STEM educator, who was left impressed. Campos then applied for a grant through the Society of Science for Aguilar to take it a step further and present his project to not only one expert, but several scientists at NASA.

Aguilar was awarded $1,500 from the Society of Science that will fund his NASA trip. When he visits NASA, he will work closely with scientists to gather more data for his project to continue it and add to it. Aguilar already plans to add another type of plant to study on Mars.

"In state, I didn’t get to place, but that’s what I’m working on. I can use this project, make sure it’s really good and try to get to state again, but this time ... make it to first place," Aguilar said.

Aguilar is the only student in the Coastal Bend with this opportunity. He’s also on track to becoming the first in his family to graduate high school. West Oso Junior High Principal Dana Moore said they have high hopes for Aguilar and what he can achieve for himself and inspire in others.

"Just hearing that and seeing how motivated he is, is amazing. Then to know that the support we can offer him here to be better and to be successful and have partnerships with NASA and the Society of Science for our students is amazing," Moore said.

Campos and Aguilar have already reached out to NASA for dates on when they can visit. The state science fair will be in March, giving Aguilar time to continue going to infinity and beyond with his research.

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