Thursday, July 7, 2016

Dagmar And Diamante Daniel Take Top Design Award In 2016 Cubes In Space™ Program

The winning entry was a joint entry by Dagmar (age 12) and Diamante (age 11), sisters who designed an experiment to measure intraocular pressure in astronauts' eyes during the initial phase of rocket flights

Sisters Dagmar and Diamante Daniel of the Wissahickon School District in Pennsylvania took the Top Design Award in the third annual Cubes In Space™ Program. The award is given each year to the person whose design is selected at the best overall design. About 500 experiments from 22 countries were submitted to the program. The most interesting and well-designed proposals were selected to fly on a rocket from NASA Wallops Facility. The goal of the Cubes In Space™ program is to help young people learn to problem-solve and to learn skills and develop interests that will help them succeed in the future. Students from all over the world can benefit from the program, regardless of gender, race, religion or nationality. Every year, one of the experiments, receives the Top Design award.

This year, the winning experiment was designed to measure the effect of acceleration/G forces on intraocular pressure (IOP).

During the initial phase of the spaceflight, the crews are exposed to acceleration/G forces. It is well known that the increased pressure on the human or animal body can have negative effects, such as damage to the vision. This damage is generally assumed to be due to burst blood vessels. What is less well known is that even in the absence of blood vessels, the increased pressure in the human eye (termed intraocular pressure, IOP), can lead to eye damage.  Even a mildly increased IOP can a lead to eye diseases such as glaucoma, and retinal detachment. This is particularly important as older people fly, when the risk from increased IOP is higher than in young healthy people (IOP of many older people is already on the high end of the normal range). Does IOP increase during the acceleration phase of a rocket flight? This type of measurement is really difficult to perform in real time. In other words, physicians would need to place their instruments on an eye of an astronaut during the acceleration phase of the flight, or implant IOP probes into the astronaut’s eye. At the same time, knowledge whether and how much IOP increases during a space flight is extremely useful. If IOP does increase, then all potential astronauts at risk should be placed on IOP-lowering medications or excluded from flight. Alternatively, IOP should be taking into consideration when designing new rockets and flight paths, and flight paths with the least risk of increased IOP should be taken. Therefore, we need to know how IOP changes during the spaceflight in order to protect human health.

The experiment was designed to answer two questions: (1) Does IOP change during the acceleration phase of the space flight? (2) How does one measure IOP on a rocket?

To measure IOP, the young researchers designed a model of the human eye, which they then placed into a 4 cm x 4cm x 4cm cube, which was provided by the Cubes in Space program.

Both girls were very proud of their achievement. Dagmar stated, "It was a great honor to receive this award." Diamante said, "I am very proud of participating in this project, flying it into space and receiving the award too."

Cubes in Space™ is the only program in the world that gives students a no-cost opportunity to design experiments to be launched into space on a NASA rocket or balloon. The program is structured around 5 components - Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics. This enables kids to learn about space exploration utilizing innovative problem-solving learning methods. As stated on the Cubes In Space site™, both students and educators "are provided with engaging content and activities in preparation for the design and development of an experiment to be integrated into a small cubes launched into space via sounding rocket from NASA Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Virginia." Since inception the programs has had had over 5000 participants from 37 countries.

Dagmar and Diamante Daniel are available for media interviews and can be reached through their father, Rene Daniel at More information is available on their website at

About Dagmar and Diamante Daniel:

Dagmar and Diamante Daniel are the daughters of Rene Daniel and Hong Chen. They took the Top Design Award in the Cubes In Space™ program and reside in Pennsylvania.


Rene Daniel