BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - As the unmanned spacecraft, Orion, splashed into the Pacific Ocean, a special group of students at Parkview Baptist School (PBS) in Baton Rouge silently celebrated a bit of their own success.
Orion accomplished what it was after, the record of flying farther and faster than any capsule built for humans since the Apollo Moon Program. Inside was a small treasure, a special patch designed by robotics and math students at PBS.
"That's a little part of us," said Gaby Rodriguez, a student at PBS. "All of our ideas and hard work and it's going into space. That's so cool."
The students designed the symbol as part of a contest for LSU Space Day last March. They competed against about 175 other middle school students in a number of science experiments. Cheryl Fitzgerald, a teacher at Parkview, thought it would be fun to have her students enter their concept for a patch in an art contest.
"We knew we were designing a patch, but we didn't know what it would be used for," Fitzgerald said. "We were just like it's something cute and fun to do."
They labeled the patch "Going Above and Beyond" to go with Orion's mission. They illustrated the test flight with a space capsule that circles the earth twice, with the Orion constellation shining in the distance.
Robotics team member, Zachary Donze, put his classmates' ideas on paper.
"It only took me an hour of drawing it," Donze said. "I didn't go through rough drafts. I just drew the patch."
Donze is not much of a talker, but it is clear he communicates well through art. His first and only draft of the patch was out of this world. It won first prize at Space Day and a seat on the Orion Flight.
His teammates said they learned a lot about Orion's mission, each other and themselves.
"It got me to thinking one day I could be an engineer and do something like this," Rodriguez added.
"It put that in their minds," said Marja Liner, another teacher at Parkview. "I don't have to be a doctor or a lawyer or a teacher. It opened new fields for them."
Donze said he is not sure what the future holds, but he would rather stay on earth and perhaps send his next masterpiece back into orbit.
"I haven't decided yet. I might want to be an artist," Donze explained.
The students have not seen the patch, but they will each get one to remember their contribution to science.