Student Spaceflight Experiments Program

The Florida Space Grant Consortium partially sponsors Florida schools or school boards participating in the Student Space Flight Experiments Program.

The Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) was launched in June 2010 by the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE) in strategic partnership with NanoRacks, LLC. It is a remarkable U.S. national Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education initiative that gives typically 300+ students across a participating community the ability to design and propose real experiments to fly in low Earth orbit, first aboard the final flights of the Space Shuttle, and then on the International Space Station.

The program provides seamless integration across STEM disciplines through an authentic, high visibility research experience—an approach that embraces the Next Generation Science Standards. SSEP immerses hundreds of students at the local level in every facet of real research—students are truly given the ability to be real scientists and engineers.

2013-14 SSEP

Hillsborough County Public Schools (HCPS) are one of 15 communities participating in the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) Mission 5 to the International Space Station (ISS). The Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) was launched in June 2010 by the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education in strategic partnership with NanoRacks, LLC. It is a remarkable U.S. national Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education initiative that gives typically 300+ students across a community – upper elementary, middle, or high school students (grades 5-12), or undergraduates at 2-year or 4-year colleges and universities (grades 13-16) – the ability to design and propose real microgravity experiments to fly in low Earth orbit, first aboard the final flights of the Space Shuttle, and then on the International Space Station (ISS)—America’s newest national laboratory.

825 5th grade students were involved in real microgravity experiment design and proposal writing. A total of 221 proposals were submitted by the students. 3 finalists were chosen and their proposals were submitted to SSEP. The experiment selected for flight was submitted by 3 students from FishHawk Creek Elementary titled “How many seeds will germinate in microgravity vs. on Earth?” In addition, for their Mission Patch Art and Design Competitions (one at grades K-2 and another at 3-5) 652 patch designs were received, one chosen to fly with experiment from each of the two patch competitions.

SELECTED FOR FLIGHT:
How many seeds will germinate in microgravity vs. on Earth?
Grade 5, FishHawk Creek Elementary, Hillsborough County Public Schools
Co-Principal Investigators: Miranda Corbo, Srinidhi Raghavan, and Isabelle Utsler
Teacher Facilitator: Mary Vaughn, Teacher

hillsborough student image

Isabelle, Srinidhi, and Miranda preparing lettuce seeds to test protocols for assessing the effects of microgravity on germination.

Proposal Summary:
We propose to answer the question: How many seeds will germinate in microgravity vs. on Earth? Our team is looking for the frequency of seed germination in space. The purpose of this investigation is to see if lettuce will successfully grow in space providing a nutritious vegetable for our future astronauts. Since lettuce grows very quickly, with the right conditions, we feel this would be a good source of nutrition for the astronauts.

It is important to study how seeds grow in space as it will help the astronauts in many ways. This will decrease the amount of food the astronauts will need to bring on a mission therefore decreasing fuel costs. When astronauts go for longer missions sending up food is not an option as it will require too much additional mass on the rocket. If astronauts are able to grow their own food there would be a fresh food source keeping our astronauts healthy when they travel for longer missions. Also, if a mission is delayed astronauts will not have to worry about running out of food.

HONORABLE MENTION FINALISTS:
Seed Germination in Space
Grade 5, Reddick Elementary, Hillsborough County Public Schools
Co-Principal Investigators: Monique Aguilar and Brigid Chavez
Teacher Facilitator: Dariby Hynum, Teacher

Proposal Summary:
We are going to see if a tomato seed grows faster in space (no gravity) or on Earth (gravity). We think we should use tomato seeds because many kids around the United States have experimented with tomato seeds in the SEEDS in Space program. Kids from elementary schools, high schools, and colleges were given seeds stored in space and seeds that never left the Earth. Students designed their own experiments and participated in testing their own hypothesis, making their own data. Those experiments never germinated tomato seeds in space. We think that germinating tomato seeds will be a good idea because we think tomato seeds will grow faster on Earth than other fruits and veggies. We think that tomatoes could germinate faster in space too. It would be important to know the speed of germination so when astronauts need to grow food, they will know how long it will take.

If we take a nail and put it in a mixture of mineral oil, vegetable oil, vinegar, and water in a test tube and send it into space, will the nail rust like it does on earth?
Grade 5, Kingswood Elementary, Hillsborough County Pubic Schools
Co-Principal Investigators: Joanne Abadie, Jayla Dean, and Abdiel Rosario
Teacher Facilitator: Mr. Scott Coonfare, Teacher

Proposal Summary:
Our project asks the question, “To rust or not to rust?” We wonder if a nail will rust if we put it in mineral oil, vegetable oil, vinegar, and water. Will the same experiment sent into space have the same results as here on Earth? We are curious to see if the nail rusts if we take one (1) nail and place it in one (1) test tube with 1.5ml of mineral oil, 1.5ml of vegetable oil, 1.5ml of vinegar, and 1.5ml of water. When we do the experiment on Earth will the solution make the nail rust? When the experiment is done in space, will the nail rust if the same amount of solution is used? To rust or not to rust, that is the question to be answered.

2010 SSEP

FSGC supported grade 8 students from Crystal Lake Middle School in Broward county. The students from the school submitted 3 proposals for consideration. The selection committee selected the project Apples in Space. The selected team consists of 3 students and one teacher. For the experiment, the students allowed two apple seeds to germinate, one on the shuttle and one on earth in controlled conditions. After the germination process and both seeds are back on earth, they were planted. They were grown in the exact same conditions with the same water intake and sunlight. Their growth will be closely recorded and compared. After they have grown a reasonable amount of time, their height will be compared, as well as their pH levels.

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