Platteville students hope to get their invention into space

Platteville students hope to get their invention into space

Max Frommelt has been a space fanatic for years.

“I used to watch ‘Star Trek’ with my great-grandma and that’s the only thing that could get me to focus is doing that together,” said Frommelt, a senior at Platteville High School. “And so, since that point, I’ve always had my eyes to the sky looking for things.”

He took that galaxy-facing gaze and became an inaugural member of HUNCH, High Schools United with NASA to Create Hardware.

The passion for space doesn’t stop with Frommelt. Fellow HUNCH member Katelynn Hommen-Quario has a galaxy tattooed on her arm.

“I always want to know why. Why anything?” Hommen-Quario said. “And so, that’s why I’m driven toward science and anything, especially NASA because NASA strives to go into the unknown and answer questions we didn’t even know we had.”

The group has spent the last year building NAVI 3, a camera with the ability to float in a zero-gravity area, allowing an astronaut to take pictures or video without having to move a camera around or hold it in those conditions.

“That really gives it that ability of being hands free for the astronauts. They run a whole thing through an application, they never have to touch it,” Frommelt said. “Our future goal with it would be a third hand for the astronauts.”

As a part of a nationwide program, Platteville students got to travel to a NASA facility in Houston for a week, testing out equipment and the device in an anti-gravity environment.

“It’s just the jaw-drop wow factor,” Frommelt said.

“We’re ultimately trying to explore space and to be able to contribute just a small amount of that is awesome,” physics teacher and HUNCH adviser Matt Heer said.

Wednesday was the day the group had worked for. Through a computer program, the Platteville students presented their creation to NASA engineers, hoping the NAVI 3 would soon be at the International Space Station.

“We knew we were working for NASA, we were creating this amazing experiment. But as we got closer and closer to the date and as it came together, we’re like, ‘Wow.’ This has the potential to be up in the ISS. It has the potential to help all astronauts that go up there,” Frommelt said.

“My biggest goals for them are to work as a team, to dream big, that I want to expose these kids to some high-power people and places to show them that there’s more to this world than just Platteville,” Heer said.

Platteville will be judged along with 15 other high school teams. The team with the best pitch will get their creation up in the ISS. No word is in yet on when the team will know the results.