Karin Paquin on her Zero-G flight experience Thursday morning. Photo contributed by Karin Paquin

A Brunswick middle school science teacher was one of five in the nation who experienced altered gravity during a flight provided by Zero-G Experience Thursday as part of the Teachers in Space Human Flight Program.

St. John’s Catholic School science teacher Karin Paquin took part in a microgravity flight to conduct classroom experiments and collect data in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

“The experience was amazing. Attempting to carry out research in lunar and microgravity was challenging,” she wrote in an email from Florida. “We had to record time, heart rate, blood pressure, blood oxygen and monitor CubeSats.”

CubeSats are miniature satellites used in low-Earth orbit for applications of remote sensing or communications purposes.

The former marine biologist turned science teacher said she took an interest in the program after attending a workshop this past summer on space flight experiments at Brunswick Landing. It was there she learned how to build CubeSats and then in turn taught her students how to make their own.

“As a teacher, I always look for ways to bring real science applications into my classroom,” she said. “These students will have opportunities to work in the space industry and I am all about making connections for them. I have always been interested in experiments and data analysis.”


Karin Paquin holding a mini CubeSat. Photo contributed by Karin Paquin

A month after the workshop, she received a letter inviting her to participate in the Human Flight Experiment. Paquin said the program takes place over three months as she collects biometric data while wearing a smartwatch.

This particular human flight experiment was inspired by NASA’s Teachers in Space Program, which ended tragically following the Challenger shuttle explosion in 1986, which killed teacher Christa McAuliffe and her crewmates.

Paquin joined her teacher counterparts for a ride on a Zero-G aircraft. To simulate the experience of working in space and in different levels of gravity, the aircraft flew in dramatic up-and-down arcs.

Not a huge fan of flying, Paquin said she found the experience both challenging and rewarding, and is “honored to have been selected.”

“I want to teach my two young sons and my students that in order to achieve big things sometimes you have to get uncomfortable and find ways to overcome the anxiousness to dream big,” she said. “For me, bringing real data and experiences to my students and seeing them get excited about science with me is all the reward I need. I hope this is the beginning of a lifelong partnership with Teachers in Space.”

For more information about Teachers in Space, visit tis.org.

Teachers in Space Program participants Laura Tomlin, left, Karin Paquin, Joel Jackel, Teachers in Space President Elizabeth Kennick, and Jim Kuhl. Photo contributed by Karin Paquin

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