Caddo Magnet HS senior creates special device to help study how space travel will affect humans

Standout Students

SHREVEPORT, La. (KMSS) – A senior at Caddo Parish Magnet High School won a prestigious award from the nation’s oldest science competition after he created a remarkable device that can help with future missions to space.

We introduce you to this week’s standout student:

Out of nearly two-thousand submissions, high school senior Joseph Clary was named a top 300 scholar for the Regeneron Science Talent Search.

Caddo Parish Magnet HS Senior
Joseph Clary

“It was a ton of work just doing research itself [and] then putting together the application,” said Clary.

“Really when I sent it off I had no expectations to get anything. Then when I saw I was a part of the top 300 it was pretty incredible.”

Joseph began his research in 2018 for his project called “Designing and 3D Printing a Clinostat to Simulate Microgravity.” A clinostat is a device that uses rotation to stop the effect gravity has on plant growth and is used to study how microgravity affects human or animal cells. It can help determine how people will survive in space.

“As we’re exploring deeper into space and spend longer and longer in deep space, we need to know the effects microgravity will have on people. So although we can perform experiments with astronauts on the International Space Station that’s really limiting so we need to be able to perform experiments here on Earth. So the only way to do that is with simulations like clinostats,” Clary said.

But the catch is clinostats are very expensive and difficult to obtain.

“Even if you have the money you may not be able to get your hands on one because there’s only 40 in existence worldwide,” Clary said.

So Joseph made his own, inexpensive version using a computer program and 3D printer at LSU Health Sciences Center.

“When I heard about this issue when basically some researchers weren’t able to perform experiments because the equipment that they needed was just exorbitantly expensive. Like $65-thousand for one piece of equipment! I started thinking to myself maybe I could build one myself and use it in experiments,” Clary said.

His version opens up more research opportunities for others, and he proved it worked at NASA. He got to visit the Kennedy Space Center where he performed a experiment using his clinostat device versus NASA’s commercially-available version and proved it simulated microgravity.

“So it’s just a nice gage to see whether this simulation with my prototype was producing was equivalent that were using in their experiments,” Clary said.

His award for his successful project also came with a $4,000 prize. Joseph got to take home $2,000 while the other half went towards his science program at school to help future students pay for science competitions.

“So students can do the science fair and state science fair for free,” Clary said.

He’s thinking of pursuing Aerospace Engineering in college and would like to work for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab that sent the Perseverance Rover to explore Mars.

Joseph Clary is tonight’s standout student. Let us know if you have a student you would like to nominate.

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