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Buffalo Public School "Spud Launchers" will send their potato into space

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) -  A potato in space. That's the idea behind the "Spud Launchers" project.

Three young women, and future scientists, here in Buffalo will have their potato experience orbiting somewhere inside the international space station, and they call themselves, "The Spud Launchers."

Three Buffalo Public School students, Gabriella Melendez, Toriana Cornwell and Shaniylah Welch alongside their Advisor, Andrew Franz, will finally see only the finest of New York State potatoes fly into space.

Gabriella Melendez an 8th grader at School #74, Hamlin Park is the youngest member of the team. She said, "I was so excited! I didn't even have any words!"

Her team is among the winners of a national science competition. She said, "You have to pick something that you would want to send in to space and test it."

So we asked, "why a potato? She was inspired by the movie, "Martian." She said, "A potato can grow off one another, the tubers, there are little roots that grow out of it, and that can grow another a potato."

Upon return to Earth, they will plant the potatoes inside a University at Buffalo greenhouse. Working on the project, became a whole "other world" inside their inner city school, at Hamlin Park. Advisor Andrew Franz said, "I would take three girls who are doing college level work, and I do not have to tell them to sit down or to use quiet voices,  instead i'm asking them questions, and they're asking me questions, not because I'm trying to lead them to an answer, but because we're trying to find out the answer together."

Melendez says she's thrilled to now be an inspiration to get girls into science. She said, "I'm in that spot they were in for other little girls, no matter how hard it is, no matter if you think you cant do it, anything is possible."

Franz said, "Our role in this world is to go out and seek knowledge, and they get that, and they did that. It's time they get rewarded for that."

The group will head to Cape Canaveral next week to watch the launching of the rocket that will carry their science experiment into space.


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