Mars moon mission ends with seventh title trophy for cathedral school

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In theory, the now motionless Mars Rover could have captured a decent view of a Phoenix school’s winning project.

Instead, earthlings got that glimpse as junior high school students not just from Ss. Simon and Jude, but from across the state presented their written research and scaled models of what it would take to colonize Phobos, the largest and fastest of the two small moons that orbit Mars. The competition was part of the annual Aerospace Challenge that accompanies the Valley’s Fiesta Bowl festivities.

The challenge came with two main purposes. First, provide a sustainable base on Mars’ moon with minimal support from its Earthly neighbor. As a fun bonus, a secondary mission of the extracurricular challenge had students designing a team sport to be played “outdoors” in low-gravity.

Scored together, both challenges produced top finishing teams from two Catholic schools. Ss. Simon and Jude’s “Trinity 9,” a team of eighth-graders, returned from the final round of competition Feb. 9 the ultimate winners. They won a week-long experience at Space Camp in Alabama this summer and an on-field appearance at the 2019-2020 Fiesta Bowl game.

“Trinity 9,” an eighth-grade team from Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral, earned first place in the Aerospace Challenge Feb. 9. The extracurricular challenge had them researching and sustaining life on one of Mars’ moons. (courtesy photo)

St. John XXIII students were among three other finalists in the 2019 “Titan Division” for seventh- and eighth-graders. The school with a lion mascot earned several other reasons to be proud of the pride. Separate teams earned awards for best team name, team spirit and honorable mention.

All participants emerged with a greater sense of teamwork, creative thinking and the type of skills needed in STEM careers.

This marked the seventh time the cathedral school took home top honors since the Aerospace Challenged launched in 1999. Only one other school, Challenger Charter in Glendale, has been a repeat winner with championship titles in 2009 and 2017.

Other Catholic school competitors