Vinemont High School wins 1st place in UAH STEM competition

Shannon Bridges

Team members include (left to right) Alex Millwood, Seth Campbell, Leigh Ann Smithson, Mykenzie Lamb, Miguel Perales and Damon Gustafson.  Their teacher is Shannon Bridges.


VINEMONT – A group of Vinemont High School students took first place in a portion of a NASA-themed competition at the University of Alabama in Huntsville recently. Students from Alabama high schools compete in UAH’s InSPIRESS program twice a year.

The InSPIRESS competition has three different categories: Open House, Final Review and Final Paper. While there is an overall winner – which Vinemont has won in the past – Vinemont came away with first place in the Final Review.

InSPIRESS, the Innovative System Project for the Increased Recruitment of Emerging STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Students, is an outreach project that provides the opportunity for high school students to develop and design a scientific payload to be accommodated on a spacecraft which is designed by undergraduate students from UAH. InSPIRESS teams compete for selection by the undergraduate engineering teams.

Students are given a topic by representatives from UAH, which must be researched and designed. Students then present resolutions to NASA officials and receive practice and application experience while researching real-life problems and answers related to features in outer space.

The students at Vinemont High School named their team ICON, which stands for Investigating Carbon on Neptune, the subject location for this year’s competition.

The schools use the weeks leading up to the competition to research and prepare to present their research. The different schools decide what to research and how they will go about researching. The entire project is theoretical, but the students use actual data recorded by NASA for their calculations.

According to Shannon Bridges, the science and physics teacher who leads the InSPIRESS program at Vinemont High, in previous years the winner of the Final Review portion has been awarded a trip to Washington D.C. to visit the NASA headquarters to give their presentation to a team there.

Bridges allows the students in her class to work on their InSPIRESS project in the classroom. She weaves the subject matter of the class’ textbook with the project, which gives the students a chance to experience scientific concepts in action.

Vinemont has been competing in the InSPIRESS competition since it began in 2009.


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