POSTED: Friday, May 17, 2013 - 3:25pm
UPDATED: Saturday, May 18, 2013 - 7:20am
PHARR, TEXAS (KVEO NEWS CENTER 23) — A pair of fifth-graders in Pharr are walking on air after showing off the robot they built to NASA scientists and astronauts this week.
"I was really excited and I jumped on my feet when we won," said Ryan Lopez, one of the two Cesar Chavez Elementary students who built the robot.
Lopez and Anthony Barrerio were part of a grant that took them to the NASA Space Center in Houston. There, they ran the robot through an underwater obstacle course. It was submerged to similate zero-gravity conditions experienced in space.
But after all the planning, before they even got started, they hit a snag. The robot didn't work.
"We ended up swapping the motor with some other team to submerge it," Barrerio said. "So it's a lot of hard work. Even over there, we still had to modify it."
They borrowed parts from another team and finished the obstacle course.
Both boys say they want to get into engineering when they grow up, and they both look to family members. Ryan's brother is a certified welder. And Anthony's uncle is studying to be an engineer.
"He's really good at inspiring me to be an engineer when I grow up," Lopez said of his brother. "He says how great welding is, and I try to follow him."
This may be the calling for them. They form a team that's part of another grant that looks at sustaining life in outer space. If Ryan and Anthony are successful, they will go to Washington, DC and later to Florida to see the space shuttle launch.
"Not a lot of people get to do this, we were the only other people in the Valley to do this," Barrerio said about what's it's like to be part of the whole program. "It's really exciting."