FOUNTAIN VALLEY : Cox Student Teams Win NASA Contest


Their mission aboard spaceship Rock Crusher 2001 was to travel to distant planets and find new sources of energy for a world running out of gas and oil.

Mission accomplished.

Along the way, the expedition earned these six young, would-be rocket scientists at the James H. Cox School top awards in the 1994 NASA National Science contest.

“We’re so thrilled,” said the third-graders’ teacher, Leigh Hoven-Severson, whose students competed against thousands of third- to fifth-graders from across the United States.


Under the contest rules, students were required to explain how their project would benefit humankind.

“They learned to work together and share ideas, and secondly, they really got a vision of how in the future they could help the world,” said Hoven-Severson, a 27-year teacher who has taught at Cox School for the past decade.

One of the teams of three placed first in a state competition and second in the nation. Another three-member team won second place in the state contest.

The students will be recognized during a school ceremony Tuesday and awards will be presented to them by a scientist from the McDonnell Douglas Corp., Hoven-Severson said.

The project that won top state honors was created by Laith Oweini, Steven Chen and Himani Amoli. Their spacecraft, called Rock Crusher 2001, was to go to Mars to search for alternative energy sources because Earth is depleting its supply of oil and gas.

Steven, 8, said the spacecraft has living space for eight astronauts and four robots and is equipped with a science lab and an exercise room.


“If you’re in space, you still need to exercise so when you go back to Earth you don’t get weak,” he explained.

Laith, 9, said he would consider becoming an astronaut and wouldn’t mind taking a flight in their creation. Steven, however, said he’d never want to ride in the spacecraft because “I’m scared to go to Mars.”

The second-place state winners created Space Station Genesis, designed to explore Jupiter’s moons for life as well as information for future explorers.

Jun Huang, 9, Evan Tsutsumida, 8, and Therese Catanach, 8, created a spacecraft with a garden, pool, pool table and video games.