Venus is Caught in Webs

Leaders giving their presentation.

Kristie Martins, Editor


Grab a student in the hallway and ask her what comes to mind at the word “Venus” and she may give you a response like, “Uhmm…planet.”

Or in Bob Jones High School senior Madelyn Wong’s case, the goddess of Aphrodite is what comes to mind.

But there is much more to this planet–a mysterious story that is waiting to be uncovered.

And this story is slowly being unraveled by a certain group of engineering students at Bob Jones High School.

Since the second week of the school year, these students have been researching everything about this planet in order to complete their senior design project.

Working in conjunction with UAH students, these high school seniors have designed an experiment to land a hypothetical payload, or cargo, onto Venus to study mysterious structures called arachnoids.

These cracks in Venus’ structure seemingly resemble Earth’s volcanoes, but in order to truly analyze them, the team has come up with a way to accurately and successfully land this payload in order to evaluate data from the arachnoids and solve their mystery.

Team S.P.I.D.E.R., as they call themselves, is competing with other schools across the nation to introduce this experiment and inform the community about Venus and its arachnoids.

This project and competition, promoted by the InSPIRESS outreach program, is not only purposed to study Earth’s “twin.” It primarily aims to spark the interest of and recruit potential STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) students.

“Through our research, we hope to add to the scientific community and increase awareness of STEM education to the public,” Vanessa Cardwell, community engagement director for the group, states.

Through this project, all members of the team are challenged to go beyond classroom expectations and dip their toes into the world of college.

“They’re really doing something that most students don’t do until college,” explains Jessye Gaines, engineering instructor for the team.

In order to graduate, seniors in college have to construct a senior design project. To give her students a taste of what that’s like, she has decided to mirror the situation in her classroom.

“Our senior design project is an optimal opportunity for us students to assess, apply, and communicate knowledge gained in the classroom in a challenging and creative way,” Cardwell shares.

And it seems like they have achieved some of their goals already.

The group showcased their research to the community at Monte Sano’s Venus Day event this past Saturday, November 2nd. Over 70 people attended, giving the students a chance to leap forward in the competition and provide the attendees with interesting information about the planet.

Team S.P.I.D.E.R. also led the kids at the event through a special food activity where they could make their own edible Venus. Each food item representent a different part of Venus’ structure, making the activity a fun and educating experience for kids and parents.

“They have really surpassed all of my expectations for [this project],” Gaines states. “They are taking full responsibility for it. It’s truly student-led.”

She claims that this year’s group has been exceptional, making them the best team to have ever completed a senior design project so far.

Team S.P.I.D.E.R. is still on its way to the top of the competition, and they’d love your support.

Like their Facebook page “Team S.P.I.D.E.R.” or visit their website at to learn more about these bright future engineers and what they’re learning.

Team members include Jeremy McCormick, Brady Ford, Achille Heraud, Evan Knight, Alyx Benedict, David Hawkins, Ben Johnson, Austin Butler, and Thomas Atkins, and Vanessa Cardwell.