Howard County Times
Howard County

Marriotts Ridge graduate meets astronaut in summer program [West Friendship]

"It was stressful tweaking our prototype at the last minute but truly exciting," said Garrison Ferrell, soon to be sophomore at Virginia Tech, who is studying material science engineering and bio medical engineering, of his recent trip to the Johnson Space Center in Houston Texas. Those who knew him as a high school student at Marriotts Ridge are not surprised at the gusto which he applies to his activities. The teachers he remembers influencing him most while a student at Marriotts Ridge were his advanced math, chemistry and calculus instructors Kevin Flynn, Jennifer Cooper and Emily Roberts who guided him in his quest for invention and innovation. "Mrs. Cooper made me fall in love with calculus," said Ferrell. This summer Garrison worked at the Food and Drug Administration as an intern. But it was in early June, when Ferrell experienced the best of the best He and four teammates from Virginia Tech were invited to the Johnson Space Center, NASA headquarters in Houston, to present and demonstrate an invention they had developed at Virginia Tech last year. Garrison's team developed a tool with a potential for astronauts to utilize for the purpose of scooping minerals from an asteroid surface. The tool is called Micro Gravity Asteroid Surface Sampler or MGASS. While in Houston, NASA testers/divers successfully tested Garrison's MGASS "invention" underwater. Aside from the honor of the invitation to NASA, the exhilaration of having the team's invention tested in Houston, and the amazing new friends and experiences, Garrison counts a specific honor in meeting former Astronaut Dr. Ellen Ochoa, director of the Johnson Space Center. Soon Garrison will be back to his studies in Blacksburg, Virginia, but the impressive experience of having his team's device tested under the gaze of Ochoa, the astronaut who made her first flight in 1993 on the Shuttle Discovery, is not one he will soon forget. Garrison is the youngest of six children and the son of a very proud set of parents, Tim and Amy Ferrell.

On July 29 at 7 p.m., Pavilion 1at the Alpha Ridge Park is the place to be for young astronomers and their families during the Celestial Searchers annual "Star-B-Q." Searchers founder Joel Goodman invites prospective new members to join this festive outdoor star-gazing party. Sunset is around 8:20 p.m. that evening and at that time guests will head to the observatory and view the night sky through telescopes set up by the Howard Astronomical League. Interested? Please RSVP to Joel Goodman at


Gather your books, records, CDs, DVDs and videos for donation to the 22nd Annual Shepherd of the Glen Lutheran Church Media Sale in September. Donations are being collected until Aug. 22 and may be placed in the plastic bench next to the side door of the church at 14551 Burnt Woods Road. Tax donation forms are in the bench.

The Turf Valley Towne Square free concert series continues this summer with Anthology on July 27, followed by Code Red on Aug. 3. The concerts are held in the Towne Square from 6:30 to 8 p.m.