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Students in Bangor are representing Maine in this national NASA Challenge

The students are stepping in the shoes of NASA engineers for the TechRise student challenge.

BANGOR, Maine — A group of seventh-grade students in Bangor are set to build their experiments after being announced winners in NASA's national TechRise Student Challenge.

In a livestream earlier this month, it was announced that six students from the William S. Cohen School in Bangor were one of the 60 student teams chosen across the country to compete. 

Students were tasked to come up with an experiment in October. The Bangor team chose to test and track air quality at different altitudes.

Ben Beaulieu, Henry Bennett, Reed Marasco, Obi Okafor, Lyell Walker, and Leo Tang must all work together over the next four months to build, test, and send off their experiments in May.

The students' experiments will be placed in boxes, which will then take flight on high-altitude balloons to gather data. 

“We can use that data to figure out where most of the pollution is, and we can figure out how to make less of that pollution," Walker said.

Guiding the team is science teacher Margaret Pietrak, who helped the students submit the application on short notice when it dropped into her inbox. 

“I clicked on it, and I found out there were only four days until the submission date," Pietrak said. “They came together, worked over the weekend, and I stayed late on Tuesday with them to make sure that we would get it in.”

The students will also be able to work alongside engineers from the TechRise challenge for the occasion.

"I think these students are scientists," Pietrak said. “What about 10 years from now, where are these students going to be? What about 20 years from now?”

The students' experiments will take flight summer 2023.

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