GNA's Anthony Fleury is 30th out of nearly 47,000 contenders in AXE Apollo competition.

Last updated: March 31. 2013 11:27PM - 31951 Views
By Jon O'Connell

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NANTICOKE — Anthony Fleury has a shot to get into outer space.
Out of nearly 47,000 contenders in the international vote-determined AXE Apollo competition, the Greater Nanticoke Area High School science teacher is ranked 30th.
Fleury, who has worked at GNA for 11 years, teaches Earth and space science to freshmen and physics to juniors and seniors.
Born in 1969, the year of the Apollo 11 lunar landing, Fleury said space was exciting for any kid back then. And, though the buzz may have subsided considerably, he said space discussions still leave his students starry-eyed.
“When you talk to kids about space … nothing makes their eyes light up like that,” he said.
Fleury brings hands-on experimentation to his students. He said he looks for ways to discover new things about space and science and brings them back to the classroom.
After participating in a zero-gravity simulator, Fleury brought back data and video from experiments he conducted while he was weightless. He said his students develop most of the experiments in the classroom and he completes them taking video and notes for students to dissect the results.
His classes send weather balloons high into the upper atmosphere to take photographs.
For about $200, Fleury said, they suspend a camera and an old iPhone equipped with a tracking app from a large helium balloon and let it fly. The images recovered are breathtaking.
Atmospheric layers made by graded temperatures fade to dark blue over northeastern U.S. regions. A lens flare from unfiltered sunlight shines over what they identified as the Chesapeake Bay around 200 miles away from where the balloon was launched.
Claire Saunders, a Duquesne University sophomore studying physics and math, was in Fleury's first class to send up a weather balloon. She said the information they collected then was incredible and it keeps getting better.
“I think he's done it several times since then,” Saunders said. “Each time has improved since the first time he did it.”
At Fleury's insistence, Saunders applied for an internship at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, a lab he had worked at as part of a federal program.
At first, Saunders said, she resisted, but landed a spot after her freshman year working with the most intense neutron beam in the world used to explore what things are made of to improve manufacturing materials.
Saunders said Fleury inspired her to pursue a career similar to his own.
“If it wasn't for Mr. Fleury, I wouldn't be in physics,” she said.
For the AXE Apollo contest, two finalists from the United States with the most votes will attend training camp with winners from around the world. From those finalists, 22 grand-prize winner will be chosen at random to win. While Fleury has close to 700 votes and he is in 30th place, the contest leader from the U.S. has about 50,000 votes.
The voting window closes at midnight April 27.

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