Tiare Nicholas-Bublick, a junior at St Ursula Academy in Toledo Ohio, heads the school’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Club.
She is the daughter of Dr Selena Nicholas-Bublick, who grew up in Rarotonga, and is a regular visitor here.
She and her team have been chosen to take part in a NASA Challenge to design a wearable garment to protect astronauts in deep space from solar radiation, which can cause cancer and other ailments.
Nicholas-Bublick’s team is one of 78 from across the nation.
“Our suit design,” she said, “is small polyethylene pellets in small pockets surrounded by mesh. It cinches at the waist to create a ‘bowtie’ shape. This explains our team name ‘Bowtie’.”
“We used polyethylene because it is hydrogen rich and provides good protection against the radiation.
“The pellet form of the material was suitable due to it being able to move easily with the body (flexible), provides comfort, and can be taken out of the suit and refilled.
“The outside layering of mesh helps to cool the astronauts by absorbing and releasing the moisture.”
Nicholas-Bublick says, if selected, her team will travel to NASA headquarters and present their garment to the scientists.
This project has helped her appreciate the wonders of space, she says.
The other members of the team are Mariah Oberhaus, and Madeline Bumpus, and sophomore Hannah Jeffrey. Science teacher and Club advisor is Jackie Kane.
Dr Selena Nicholas-Bublick said her daughter loves visiting her relatives on the island including her uncles Brendon and Quentin Nicholas.
“Tiare enjoys the sciences, in particular oceanography and animal sciences. Her future goal is to pursue veterinarian medicine,” Dr Selena Nicholas-Bublick said.
“Since she was around seven years old, she volunteered yearly at the Ester Honey Foundation and over the last couple of years at the Te Are Manu Vet Clinic in Arorangi.”