Friday, August 14, 2015

SECOND IN THE NATION is not something to neglect!
You guys and your hard work have paid off!

And it was SO CLOSE.
Massachusetts' final score = 23.
OURS = 22!

You should be proud, fellas!
I know, I am!

Our sponsor, Lorna Finman, sent me this congratulatory email I want to share:

Dave and Team

Absolutely AWESOME -  There were tough competitors - California, Massachusetts -
I am so IMPRESSED!!!

I think some press is in order!!!  That rural Idaho was second in the nation with the big guys - look out everyone!!


China - this is the zero gravity space simulation and C programming of mini satellites on the space station that is run by the astronauts on ISS.  STEM Charter won in Idaho and went on the national competition and getting second nationally is HUGE.  Incredible high level learning in this competition.


This is more than globally competitive - its cosmic!!



Monday, August 10, 2015

Friday, August 14th - the day we go into space! 

FIRST - we are now meeting at North Idaho STEM Charter instead of Woodland.
For those not familiar with directions, see the MAP to STEM. It is located just south of the Super One in Rathdrum.

We now have more details from MIT and NASA concerning the final competition this Friday.

We will begin at 6:30. 
The actual competition was moved earlier than previously said - it will now being at 6:45. Both Idaho teams will be in the first heat - so be here, if you can, on time.
We should be finished now by 10 AM.
[I will need to leave by 11 AM, so please make sure you have someone to pick you up by then]

Hartman Waffle Extraordinaire!
Mr. and Mrs. Hartman have offered once again to generously make us their world famous, "drop-everything-and-run-to-get-yours" waffles!!! So come early with an appetite!

This is laid back - kick back - watch our SPHERES win - and just enjoy yourself!

So - come join us!


Monday, August 3, 2015


We did it....well, YOU did!
We are going to space on August 14th!

Our code was run against the other teams in Idaho and out of the 8 games we played against Meridian and Coeur d'Alene, we won 7! Our top score was....well, let's keep that confidential for any other teams out there scoping to learn how to beat us in the final competition!

Let's just say to those future can't hear yourself scream in space!

Today (Monday) we will take the day off and reassess our next move. If you guys wish to get together the next two days and enhance our code, let's do it.
If you chose to take the next two days off, that's OK too. Just let me know by the afternoon so we can make a decision.

I WILL GET EVERYONE INFO ON THE FINAL COMPETITION DAY (August 14) AS SOON AS I KNOW MORE. NASA will provide the time of the event later.

We will meet at 9 AM, as usual, at North Idaho STEM Charter - go over the simulations and results; fill out an exit survey (MIT requests this from all participants), then head over to Spokane for the day.

We will visit the planetarium but also eat lunch over in Spokane.
We'll go to McDucks, Arby's, Burger King or where ever you wish for lunch. And get ready for the master capture the flag competition of your lifetime!!!


Monday, July 13, 2015

Another special guest... 

Sophie Milam
We are blessed to have Sophie Milam come and share with us her adventures on Mars!

You heard me right...

Sophie just finished an 8 month stint as Chief Engineer on the third HI-SEAS Mission (Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation) - a project funded by the NASA Human Research Program that simulates a long-duration Mars mission here on Earth. She's closer to Mars than anyone else you know….and she's coming to share with us her experiences and challenges on her mission!

Sophie was just named by Forbes magazine in its 2015 “30 Under 30 in Science.” Sophie recently graduated with a mechanical engineering master’s degree from University of Idaho. But she wanted to take time to prepare for our next major space program objective -- the planet Mars!

Along with five other crew members (three male, two female) and two reserves, Sophie was selected from hundreds of international applicants to participate in HI-SEAS Mission 3. Mission 3, the longest to date, began Oct. 15, 2014 and lasted for a total of 273 days, ending on June 15, 2015, which coincidentally is Sophie's birthday.

“I have always wanted to be an astronaut,” Sophie said. “When I was 2, my mom took me to see the Space Shuttle as it piggy-backed on top of a modified Boeing 747. Ever since, my life’s goals have been focused on space.”

Sophie will be coming to share her experience this Wednesday, July 15 at 10 am.
Come meet someone who may very well be on the first mission to Mars!
(you can tell people later that you know a space legend)

You can read more of Sophie's adventure on her Wordpress site -

Come meet one of the next generation of astronauts!

Monday, July 6, 2015


If you want to learn more about what can be done with a smart phone, an encasing with some CO2 canisters, and a little imagination, you'll learn about the SPHERES program.

Check out these links:

Thursday, July 2, 2015

See you next Monday!

A special guest... 

Astronaut, John Phillips

We are so blessed to have someone who has been on the International Space Station join us! An American hero is coming to share his adventures in space next Tuesday!

NASA EXPERIENCE: After training to be an astronaut in 1996, Mr. Phillips served as systems engineering and CAPCOM for the International Space Station (ISS) and as a robotics specialist, supporting operations on missions. He has logged more than 203 days in space during three flights and has flown as Flight Engineer on three different spacecraft types:  shuttle, Soyuz and ISS.

He served on the STS-100 Endeavour (April 19 to May 1, 2001) delivering and installing the Canadarm-2 robotic arm on the ISS.

He also served on the ISS Expedition 11 Mission (April 15 to October 10, 2005) for six months, continuing ISS maintenance, working with scientific experiments, performing a spacewalk in Russian spacesuits from the Pirs Airlock and hosting the “return to flight” visit of Space Shuttle Discovery (STS-114).

Mr. Phillips also served on the STS-119 Discovery Mission (March 15 to 28, 2009) for a 13-day, 202 orbit mission, where the crew delivered and installed the S6 integrated truss segment to the ISS, including the final two solar array wings.

Need less to say - we are honored to have a man who has served our nation and science in such laudable ways! Come meet him next Tuesday, July 7 at 9 am.

Come join a REAL astronaut!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

T-minus TWO WEEKS...and counting


The Zero Robotics game for this summer really looks COOL!
Here's an overview:

OBJECTIVE: You will fly your SPHERES satellite within a certain distance of an approaching asteroid and take photos. You will need to upload your photos to NASA before proceeding and have limited memory space to take your photos.

PROBLEM: Solar flares...they can damage your satellite and delete all your stored photographic files.

SOLUTION: Other than your skill as a pilot and code-master which you will need to maneuver into the shadow of the asteroid, you may also obtain more memory packs (for storing more photos).

Come join us in space!


2015 Game Overview
Click Here

2015 Game Manual
Click Here

2015 Game Functions
Click Here

The BIBLE on C Programming
Click Here

Saturday, May 23, 2015

WE NEED "ROBOTEERS" (students)...

Please contact Mr. Johnson via email to reserve your spot or send questions.

Make checks out to: North Idaho STEM Charter Academy.
If you wish to pay the $125 fee at the door on the first day, you may - you may also mail your fee to North Idaho STEM's office but only for the first two weeks of June (the office will be closed for the summer but I will be in and out the second week of summer break).

Sign In... 

Zero Robotics, hosted by MIT, uses GOOGLE for signing in to the game and training.
IF YOU OR YOUR PARENTS DO NOT WANT YOU TO USE GOOGLE TO SIGN IN, let me know - MIT has a workaround to get you logged in.

To get started, go to the main website:
  • You will need a GOOGLE account to sign into the game. If you do not have one, you can create one on MIT's site. No need for another password or username. 
  • If you want to start messin' around with things - go to the IDE drop down at the top and create a New Project - those of you who are familiar with Zero Robotics will love the new interface! 


2015 Game Overview
Click Here

2015 Game Manual
Click Here

2015 Game Functions
Click Here

The BIBLE on C Programming
Click Here

More details will follow! 

Come join us in space... 

Thursday, May 7, 2015


You are a scientist with a problem.
You have a billion dollars of NASA hardware that will be using your code - and you really don't have a billion dollars to replace NASA equipment in case you did something wrong.

What you do?

How could you "test" your code in REAL SPACE before trying yours, making a horrible, horrible mistake, costing NASA (and you) countless of dollars, making you blush redder than a sunburned tomato, causing your mother to cry horribly, disowning you as her child...

...maybe if we could try it out first...


ZR is a robotics programming competition. You and your team will be programming robotic SPHERES satellites that work on the International Space Station.
Come join us in the race...

  • PARTICIPANTS: 6th - 8th grade
       (5th graders going into 6th grade AND/OR 8th graders going into 9th grade are eligible)
  • COST: $125 for 5 weeks ($25 per week)
    Make checks out to North Idaho STEM Charter Academy
  • TIMES: 9:00 am - 1:30 pm, M-Th (we will not be meeting on Fridays)
  • DATES:  Monday, July 6 - Thursday, August 6