Selected Experiments on SSEP Mission 2 to ISS

The Student Spaceflight Experiments Program is proud to report that there were a total of 1,125 proposals submitted from student teams across the 11 communities participating in Mission 2 to ISS—by far the greatest number of proposals received for a SSEP flight opportunity to date. Of those, 449 proposals were forwarded for review by Step 1 Review Boards in each of the communities. Each Step 1 Review Board selected three finalist proposals, which were submitted to the National SSEP Step 2 Review Board.

On May 22-24, 2012, the Step 2 Review Board met at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, reviewed all 33 finalist proposals, and selected one proposal to fly for each community, for a total of 11 flight experiments. The national press release announcing the selection of the Mission 2 to ISS flight experiments is provided in a June 7, 2012, SSEP National Blog post. It is noteworthy that the 1,125 proposals received reflected a total of 3,934 students fully engaged in experiment design.

All 33 finalist experiment teams, along with descriptions of their proposed flight experiments, are provided below. You are also invited to meet the SSEP Step 2 Review Board members for Mission 2 to ISS.

Congratulations to the thousands of students and their teachers participating in Student Spaceflight Experiments Program Mission 2 to the International Space Station.


1. Santa Monica, California
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What Is the Effect of Microgravity on the Formation of Silly Putty and How Do the Characteristics of That Silly Putty Differ from the Silly Putty Made on Earth?
Grade 8, Lincoln Middle School
Principal Investigator: Cindy Yen
Collaborators: Francis Abastillas, Dean Chien, Matilda Loughmiller, Alex Soohoo, Roman Valentine, and Jane Cho Watts
Teacher Facilitators: Carol Wrabel and Marianna O’Brien, Lincoln Middle School Science Teachers

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Proposal Summary:
Silly Putty is a mysterious yet entertaining substance; it is a non-Newtonian dilatant fluid, and it can be classified as a solid or liquid. Therefore, we want to propose that an experiment on Silly Putty be done in microgravity. This experiment will test if Silly Putty can be made in microgravity, and if so, how do the characteristics of that Silly Putty compare to the characteristics of the Silly Putty made on Earth. The materials that we are using to make the Silly Putty are sodium borate solution, which is borax mixed with tap water, and Elmer’s glue. We are using a type 2 FME with glue in the main FME volume and sodium borate solution in the long ampoule. When mixed, the product becomes homemade Silly Putty. When the FME gets back to Earth, we will see if Silly Putty was actually made in microgravity. If so, we will continue with our observations and compare the traits of the Silly Putty made on Earth to the traits of the Silly Putty made in microgravity. The traits are molecular structure, viscosity, color, adhesiveness, dissolvability in alcohol, bounce height, and flammability. We hypothesize that Silly Putty will be able to be made in microgravity, but the viscosity and bounce height will be different. The results of this experiment will be recorded and shared with various scientists. We hope that making Silly Putty in microgravity will help the world learn more about this unique non-Newtonian fluid.

The Effect of Microgravity on the Coagulation of Skim Milk and Vinegar (Acetic Acid)
Grade 8, Lincoln Middle School
Co-Principal Investigators: Dean Chien and Jane Cho Watts
Co-Investigators: Francis Abastillas and Roman Valentine
Collaborators: Victor Cheng, Phoebe Edwards, Jaebok Lee, Christopher Levine, Matilda Loughmiller, Alexander Soohoo, and Cindy Yen
Teacher Facilitators: Marianna O’ Brien and Carol Wrabel, Science Teachers

Proposal Summary:
It is known that milk and vinegar mixed on Earth curdles and produces floc, otherwise known as curds. This simple chemical reaction is known as coagulation and is caused due to electromagnetic attraction. The formation of planets, heart disease, blood clotting and water purification are all heavily dependent on coagulation. This experiment will attempt to answer whether or not coagulation is possible in a microgravity environment. We hypothesize that microgravity will cause the effects of coagulation to have a more minimal impact on the skim milk, resulting in less curds. This is based on the fact that the coagulation will occur while the FME is floating in microgravity, meaning that the solid curds produced will not settle to the bottom of the container. Instead, the coagulated particles will float in mid-air and be much further apart from each other than if gravity pulled them together. Like magnets, the attraction will decrease with distance, and ultimately the floc will break apart, resulting in less solid mass when measured back on each.

Nanofibers in Space?
Grade 7, Lincoln Middle School
Co- Principal Investigators: Isaac Horwitz-Hirsch, Isa Milefchik, and Sam Weiller
Co-Investigators: Micah Maccoby and Eli Waurshauer
Teacher Facilitators: Carol Wrabel and Marianna O’Brien, Teachers

Proposal Summary:
We hope to insert aniline in our tube and have ammonium peroxydisulfate (an oxidant) in the long ampoule. This should create emeraldine polyaniline nanofibers. We want to see if nanofibers will have a different synthesis and growth pattern in microgravity and whether there will be increased or decreased productivity with different amounts of gravity. The reason we want to conduct this particular experiment is so that we can better understand nanofibers and their optimal growth setting. This is because nanofibers are so important to us in ways most people do not realize. With advancing modern technology, nanofibers can be crucial in doing things such as making artificial organ components, helping with drug delivery, operating electronic devices, and making napkins that can easily identify bacteria. We need to further understand these miraculous structures to learn more about just what potential they have. This is the first step we are taking to see if nanofibers grow differently in different conditions and if so how it will affect their uses and properties.


2. East Lyme, Connecticut
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Effectiveness of Hydrogen Peroxide on Aspergillus Niger Growth in Microgravity
Grade 5, East Lyme Middle School
Co-Principal Investigators: Noah Barnhart and Makaih Olawale
Co-Investigator: Nick Hyde
Collaborator: Brandon Hall
Teacher Facilitator: Glenn PenkoffLidbeck, Science Teacher

5th graders Noah, Brandon, Makaih, and Nick are feeling confident after facing the SSEP Step 1 Review Board at East Lyme’s Race to Space Night. Click for Zoom

Proposal Summary:
Our question is “Does hydrogen peroxide eliminate mold in space?” Briefly, our answer is “Yes, it will as it does on earth.” We only used four materials: Aspergillus niger (a common mold found on fruits and vegetables), 10% hydrogen peroxide, Malt Extract broth, and a Nanoracks test tube. Generally, the way to perform the experiment in space is to expose the 10% hydrogen peroxide solution to the mold spores in the Malt Extract broth. Upon contact, the hydrogen peroxide begins working to break down the mold spores and within minutes, completely eliminates the spores. The ability to eliminate mold quickly is important because mold exposure, even in small amounts, is never good to breathe. It sometimes is the reason for asthma attacks. Also, many people are allergic to A. niger and need a quick way to eliminate it before it causes them complications. So if A. niger gets into the shuttle or space station’s air supply, hydrogen peroxide could be used to quickly remove it like it does on earth. The reasons hydrogen peroxide would work better than other disinfectants is because it doesn’t contain chemicals that will pollute the water. Also, hydrogen peroxide decomposes into water and oxygen atoms which is good because it doesn’t contain any harmful chemicals that the astronauts would inhale. Finally, if this experiment works it would be great because astronauts could take hydrogen peroxide into space and it would be a convenient antifungal way to clean the rocket’s surfaces.

Lactobacillus acidophilus in Microgravity
Grade 5, East Lyme Middle School
Principal Investigator: Daven Roberts
Co-Investigators: Saige Deveau and Grace Foltz
Collaborator: Sydney Taylor
Teacher Facilitator: Samantha Cregger, Science Teacher

Proposal Summary:
Experimenters will see how micro-gravity affects the growth of Lactobacillus acidophilus, which is living bacteria in yogurt. We have learned that it takes five to ten weeks for Lactobacillus acidophilus to grow and make a serving size of yogurt, when it is kept on Earth. We will observe it grows and reproduces normally in microgravity. When the lactobacillus comes back to Earth we will check if it grew. We will do this by seeing if the Yoplait vanilla yogurt is thick after sitting with the Hood skim milk for thirty days. If it is not thick then it has not developed correctly. We are hoping that the Lactobacillus will grow at its normal rate, if at all, so it can be the first unaltered food to go on the International Space Station. This experiment is important because astronauts are eating freeze dried food in space that probably isn’t that good for them. If yogurt can grow in space not only can the astronauts eat it but also, by just bringing a little amount of yogurt and milk the astronauts can make more yogurt. While the nanorack is in space, we hope the Lactobacillus Acidophilus will transform the mixture into thick yogurt. On the fifth day of the space trip the astronauts will mix the milk and the yogurt together in the sample kit. We know that on Earth the yogurt turns the milk into thick yogurt, and we hope that it will do the same in space.

Mushroom Growth with Hydrogen Peroxide
Grade 5, East Lyme Middle School
Co-Principal Investigators: Stella Fisher and Rachel Natzel
Collaborator: Jessica Oddi
Teacher Facilitator: Glenn PenkoffLidbeck, Science teacher

Proposal Summary:
We believe that the mushroom tissue will be assisted in growth, even in microgravity, by hydrogen peroxide. If our hypothesis is correct; astronauts will be able to grow their own mushrooms instead of freeze, dried mushrooms. If our hypothesis is incorrect, we will have learned that the mushroom tissue will not be assisted in growth by hydrogen peroxide in microgravity. This can help astronauts with their living in space by having mushrooms for eating in their diet on the International Space Station.


3. Chicago, Illinois
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Shmooing Around in Space
Grade 6, Mark T. Skinner
Co-Principal Investigators: Jeff Guo and Joshua Tabuena
Co-Investigators: Eric Chen, Stone Chen, Edward Huang
Teacher Facilitator: Kori Milroy, Science Teacher

Proposal Summary:
Can yeast shmoo in space? Yeast normally reproduces through asexual reproduction, a process which has its disadvantages. Some yeast can go through sexual reproduction, where two types of yeast cells will share genetic information. The yeast cell will send out mating projections called shmoos. The chemical responsible for this act is a hormone called a pheromone. The yeast cells, an “A” cell and an “Alpha” cell will grow towards each other until they fuse into one. There they will share genetic information. We are trying to see if yeast can do this in space. We hypothesize that the yeast will be able to send pheromones and reproduce sexually in space. We will conduct this experiment on both ground and on the ISS. On the ISS, we will have a sample of yeast not exposed to pheromones and a sample exposed to pheromones. We will have similar samples on earth, to compare the results. Once the samples arrive, we will see how they compare. If the yeast has produced shmoos, it means that they can send pheromones in space, and microgravity does not affect this. If they have not produced shmoos, it may mean that yeast cannot produce pheromones in space. This shows that microgravity affects this process. This experiment is fundamental research in the world of single-celled organisms. Looking at something basic, like yeast, helps us to understand something more complicated, like our cells. By studying the effects of microgravity on yeast, we can find how microgravity affects human cells.

Cement in Space
Grade 5, Skinner West Classical, Fine Arts, & Technology School
Co-Principal Investigators: Devin Barry, Raven Dziedzinski, and Isabela Suarez-Sikes
Teacher Facilitator: Kori Milroy, Science Teacher

Proposal Summary:
Our plan is to send cement mix and water together in space. When the glass tube is broken, the cement powder and the water will mix and harden. We will see how microgravity affects how the cement will harden in space, and we will compare the cement: the cement that hardened in space to the cement that hardened on Earth.

What Are the Effects of Micro-gravity on Water-purification?
Grade 5, Skinner West Classical, Fine Arts, & Technology School
Co-Principal Investigators: Ashley Mei, Christine Mui, and Christina Pang
Teacher Facilitator: Kori Milroy, Science Teacher

Proposal Summary:
Our topic is on water-purification in micro-gravity otherwise known as Space. We will use Type 2 FME. We will fit a cone- shaped funnel the Type 2 FME with the vertice of the cone-shaped funnel facing the bottom of the test tube. There will be a petite hole in the vertice of the funnel so water can pass but, sand, charcoal, and gravel can not. The funnel so it will fit directly into the test tube and charcoal, sand, and gravel will be inside the cone-shaped funnel. The un-purified water will be inside the smaller test tube inside the FME mini lab. The scientist will break the smaller test tube allowing the water to enter the funnel, passed through charcoal, sand, and gravel then exit through the miniature hole in the vertice of the funnel. The filter funnel will have miniature holes arranged in rows so water can leak out into the storage space. We will perform this experiment in gravity and micro-gravity otherwise known as Earth and Space. When both test tubes return to gravity or Earth, the funnels will be taken out and the water will be tested for pollutants, heavy metals, sediments or any other type of harmful material that should not be in the water. Based on our tests, we will form and analyze our results.


4. Cicero, Illinois
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Charlotte Goes to Space
Grade 7, Unity Jr. High School
Principal Investigator: Gisela Munoz
Co- Investigators: Aileen Lopez, Daniela Ortega, and Stephany Juarez
Teacher Facilitator: Crystal McDowell, Science Teacher

Proposal Summary:
My peers and I, also known as Team Discovery, have decided to make an experiment that consists of spider eggs. The experiment’s purpose is to know if a spider egg can hatch and survive in a microgravity environment. We would also like to know if it will affect the spider’s characteristics. We chose the Jumping Spider because they are very small (1mm-20mm) and will fit in the test tube. We also chose the jumping spider because we know that the spider can already live in high elevation, the spider has been found in elevations as high as Mt. Everest. My team and I believe that the Jumping Spider will be able to hatch and survive in the microgravity environment, just as it would here on Earth. Another, reason why we chose this experiment is because we wanted to have a unique and interesting experiment that hopefully no one else has come up with. Our experiment can help by proving the information that animals can hatch in microgravity. Perhaps someday NASA may want to send eggs into space and our research will help them. We sincerely hope that our experiment is chosen.

Bacteria in Space
Grade 7, Unity Jr. High
Principal Investigator: Griselda Rodriguez
Co-Investigators: Ofelia Flores and Michelle Uribe
Teacher Facilitator: Lindsey Hagen, 7/8 Science Teacher

Proposal Summary:
The experimenters will see how microgravity will speed up or slow down the reproduction and the process of determination of Streptococcus bacteria. We would like to proceed with this experiment to know the effect microgravity will have on bacteria. There are differences and similarities about reproduction and killing of bacteria here on earth and in space. By conducting this experiment, it will inform us about this topic deeply. We will observe and collect data about the reproduction of Streptococcus. We will use a Type 2 FME to conduct this experiment with Streptococcus bacteria in the main volume and penicillin in the long ampoule. A day before the date of returning to earth, we will break open the long ampoule to kill the bacteria with penicillin so that gravity does not affect its growth while it is being returned to earth. We will observe how fast it reproduced and died. If the development of this bacterium goes well we will now be better informed about Streptococcus bacteria and the effects of penicillin on its life.

Plants in Space
Grade 7, Unity Junior High School
Co-Principal Investigators: D’ Angelo Navejar
Co-Investigators: Cristian Gonzalez and Noelia Huerta
Teacher Facilitator: Lindsey Hagen, 7/8 Science Teacher

Proposal Summary:
The experiment we propose is to study how plants can be useful and helpful to astronauts when they are on missions up in space. We would like to observe how plant growth is different in space than on earth. Some things that may cause the plants to grow differently in space than on Earth may be the surroundings of space. Also, plants and trees give oxygen to nature on Earth. So, it may give oxygen in space as well. If the plant in space grows in a similar way to how it grows on Earth, it can be a very valuable food source and valuable for breathing as well. In case astronauts run out of food, they can eat any edible plants, such as plants of beans or grains of cereal.


5. Fitchburg, Massachusetts
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Will Microgravity Have a Significant Affect on Packed Synthetic HBOCs?
Grade 11, Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School
Co-Principal Investigators: Nadia Machado, Tiffany Nguyen, and Ryan Swift
Collaborator: Yeniffer Araujo
Teacher Facilitator: Paula deDiego, Chemistry Instructor

Nadia and Yeniffer run titrations as they conduct preliminary tests on the experiment. Click for Zoom

Proposal Summary:
Our project proposal revolves around one central concept: How does microgravity affect Synthetic Hemoglobin Based Oxygen Carriers? Due to their extreme medical potential, Synthetic HBOCs are favored in emergency medical conditions where it is difficult to get donated human blood. On the International Space Station, as well as any other spacecraft, it is next to impossible to keep a supply of donated blood on hand to use in emergency situations. Synthetic HBOC’s, on the other hand, last an extremely long time, have the ability to adapt to any person in need and can be stored without the complex conditions required for human blood. The only problem is: nobody knows how these cellular components will react when taken up into space. Through this experiment, we are trying to figure out just how Synthetic HBOCs will react among each other when stored in microgravity. Will they stick together and become unviable? Will allowing them to float free affect their ability to transport oxygen throughout body tissues? Will their protein membranes disintegrate? Our experiment can address all of these issues. To obtain these answers, we plan to place two samples of synthetic HBOCs in identical containers, immersed in a preservative, under controlled conditions. One sample will be sent into space, the other will remain here on Earth. By analyzing both of these samples simultaneously after the flight, we will be able to address all of the afore-mentioned issues and more.

Affect of Microgravity on Helicobacter pylori
Grade 10, Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School
Co-Principal Investigators: Gage Butler, Jessica Shattuck, and Jacklyn White
Teacher Facilitator: Paula deDiego, Chemistry Instructor

Proposal Summary:
Our proposal is to find out the affect of microgravity on Helicobacter pylori. This bacteria is extremely hard to cure. We will find out the affect by conducting a ground experiment to compare the results. These tests will include an ammonia test, dissolved carbon-dioxide test, pH level test, and an optical density test. This will help us determine the change in bacteria population, and amount of enzymes sent out. We will send up freeze dried H. pylori and activate it by releasing Brucella broth, which will provide food and energy for it to grow and reproduce. The H. pylori will be activated 6 days before detachment from the International Space Station, giving it 5 days to grow and reproduce before being sent back to Earth. Before re-entering Earth’s gravitational pull, we will break the ampoule containing Pepto-Bismol causing H. pylori to stop reproducing.

Effect of Silver Nanoparticles on Salmonellaenteritidis in Microgravity
Grades 10-11, Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School
Co-Principal Investigators: Russell Holbert, Brittany Velez, Emily Westerback, and Marissa Arseneau
Teacher Facilitator: Paula deDiego, Science Instructor

Proposal Summary:
The purpose of this experiment is to determine if silver nanoparticles will noticeably reduce the Salmonella count in microgravity. Silver has always been observed to have antibacterial qualities and it exhibits what is called the oligodynamic effect. Through its electron arrangement silver can “disable” bacteria. In bringing silver nanoparticles into space, the strength of this antibacterial property can be tested in microgravity because it may be plausible to use silver in engineering future spacecraft.


6. Pennsauken, New Jersey
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The Effects of Uric Acid on Bone Deterioration Within a Microgravity Environment Compared with That on Earth
Grade 9 and 11, Pennsauken High School
Co-Principal Investigators: Michelle Wan and Lacy Smith
Teacher Facilitator: P. Woodcock, Co-coordinator

Proposal Summary:
The purpose of this experiment is to determine whether microgravity affects the rate of bone decay. In our experiment, we will put fragments of chicken bones into a concentrated uric acid solution. An abnormal level of uric acid in the body causes Gout (hyperuricemia), a kind of arthritis, which causes joint inflammation. The bone fragments are going to be soaked in uric acid, in the FME on Earth and in space. When the experiment is brought back on Earth we will measure the weight of the bone fragments from the experiment on Earth and in space and compare it to its initial weight.

The Affect of Microgravity on Yeast Cell Cycle
Grade 9, Pennsauken High School
Co-Principal Investigators: Ariasi Ayala, Jessica Peralta
Teacher Facilitator: Kelly Hanlon and Carri Kotel, Co-teachers of Integrated Science CP

Proposal Summary:
We want to determine the difference on how yeast grows in space without gravity and how it grows in space and how it grows on earth. We believe that the cycle life of yeast will grow at a faster rate in space then on Earth. Some facts that we learned from this research is that the yeast life cycle goes through two to three days on Earth. Also yeast reproduces asexually. A yeast cell splits into two to make two yeast cells, there is no father or mother. If you deprive yeast of its sugar supply, it doesn’t die it just goes into suspended animation. There are scientists doing this experiment but they have no results to determine what is going to happen. This topic interests us because it is fascinating how the life cycle of yeast could change from its environment in gravity or without. We are hoping to learn the differences of yeast growth and cycle on Earth and in space. Scientists could use this experiment by hoping that studying the changes of yeast in microgravity. They will better understand the changes human cells may experience during long duration spaceflight.

Salt Water Corrosion of Aluminum in Microgravity
Grade 9, Pennsauken High School
Co-Principal Investigators: David Dow, Arnold Hernandez, and Aaron Swann
Teacher Facilitator: William Finnegan, Teacher

Proposal Summary:
Our group wants to conduct an experiment to see the effects of microgravity on corrosion of aluminum in saltwater while in space. There have been studies of Mars that suggests that Mars has a relatively salty surface, so the water will most likely be salty. Since the main body of most space vehicles consists of aluminum components, it is essential to know what will happen to space vehicles if humans ever make it to Mars. Therefore, this will benefit the studies of future space travel. For our experiment, we are going to mix a salty solution (60% salt, 40% water) in the tube with a small 2 centimeter aluminum rod and see the effects microgravity has on the aluminum rod. While our experiment is in space the astronaut will have to shake the tube for exactly 10 seconds on specific dates. Once our experiment arrives back from space and on to Earth, we will compare the experiment from space to the one on Earth and see the color difference, surface texture, and strength of the aluminum rod. We predict that since aluminum is generally very corrosion resistant due to a microscopic film of aluminum oxide on the surface, microgravity won’t drastically change the properties of aluminum. Therefore, aluminum will not be hugely affected by microgravity. We picked this experiment because we wanted to benefit NASA and we wanted to stand out from all of the other experiments. All in all, we’re confident about our experiment and hoped to get picked.


7. Guilford County, North Carolina
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Mold Reproduction Rate in Microgravity
Grade 6-8, Johnson Street Global Studies
Co-Principal Investigators: Evelyn Adriance, Ryan Darden, Jonathan Mickey, and Zeynab Warraich
Co-Investigators: Aya Abdelaziz, Jamie Baxter, Tavin Felton, Ashka Shah, and Summer Shoemake
Collaborators: Mary Dumena, Yodit Getahun, Jamarria Haywood, Mookho Htee, and Ashley Sowell
Teacher Facilitator: Alison Manka, 7th-8th Grade Teacher

Sixth-graders Evelyn Adriance (left) and Zeynab Warrich, students at Johnson Street Global Studies in High Point, N.C., prepare a swab with solution for their team’s experiment studying the growth of mold in microgravity. Click for Zoom

Proposal Summary:
This project will discover if the rate of mold reproduction is affected when exposed to a micro-gravitational environment. Our hypothesis is that the rate of mold reproduction will decrease since the spores aren’t accustomed to micro-gravity and therefore they will not grow as well. The potato-dextrose agar could also affect the rate of reproduction since mold is more accustomed to bread growth than agar. Also, since the agar hasn’t been contaminated previously, it could also vary the results. If the mold doesn’t reproduce to a level to describe it as “thriving”, this could change the way that you think about food “going bad” (after experimenting with other substrates) in space. The materials that would be needed to conduct this experiment are the following: Type 3 FME, Rhizopus stolonifer spores, and potato-dextrose agar. Inside the main volume we would place 5 milliliters of agar. In the short ampoule A the mold spores would be placed; in short ampoule B the Puromycin solution would be placed. We plan to activate our experiment after the contents within the FME have experienced 24 hours in a micro-gravitational environment. On S + 1, the astronauts will be instructed to break the Short Ampoule A to release the mold spores. On S + 4, after the mold has been exposed from S +1 until S + 4, the astronauts will break short ampoule B, releasing the Puromycin solution. Once we have this data, we will compare with our data collected on Earth.

Effects of Mitosis in Micro-Gravity
Grade 7, Ferndale Middle School, High Point
Principal Investigator: Anusha Chaudhry
Co-Investigator: Zachary Ellis
Collaborator: Myles Alexander
Teacher Facilitator: Cassandra Flemming, 7th Grade Science Teacher

Proposal Summary:
Our experiment is about the mitosis of cells. We will distinguish the effect microgravity has on cell replication. We expect for mitosis to be slowed down due to microgravity. We will be placing a dry black-eyed pea seed in a FME type 2 and watching to see if the mitosis of the cell is affected.

Space Art – How Does Microgravity Affect Absorption of Paint into Paper
Grade 6-7, Mendenhall Middle School
Co-Principal Investigators: Sarah Bressler, Helen Hamilton, Cameron Suber, and Aaron Watlington
Co-Investigator: Joshua Cook
Teacher Facilitator: Lenny Sue French, Science Teacher

Proposal Summary:
The proposed experiment addresses the question of can you paint on paper in microgravity? We will put tempera paint in the large glass ampoule (type II FME) and wrap the inside of the main volume well with watercolor paper. We are looking to see the pattern in which the paint is absorbed. It will absorb eventually. If it doesn’t absorb in microgravity it will once it re enters earth’s gravity because even after six weeks the liquid paint should not evaporate because it is in an enclosed tube. So, if there is only a single line of paint it means that none was absorbed in space but it all fell to one side when under the influence of gravity. Spots, dots, splotches would indicate that at least some of the paint was absorbed by the paper while in space. We’ve also thought about using optical microscopes to expand our analysis. We would be looking to see if the pigment (powders) separated from the water in the paint and if that may have affected the absorption.


8. Houston, Texas
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One Small Step for Bacteria, One Giant Leap for Mankind
Grade 8, Pershing Middle School
Co-Principal Investigators: Austin Abbott, Ivan Arizpe, Alexandria Burns, and John Davidson
Teacher Facilitator: Susan Broz, Teacher

L to R – Ivan Arizpe, Allie Burns, Austin Abbott, and John Davidson from Pershing Middle School, Houston, TX, work on their project, One Small Step for Bacteria, One Giant Leap for Mankind. Click for Zoom

Proposal Summary:
We have designed an experiment to determine how micro-gravity affects antibiotic susceptibility/resistance of bacteria. We plan to use Bacillus thuringiensis (or Bt) for our bacteria, since it is non-pathogenic to humans and easily accessible, not to mention it is a close relative of the newsworthy human pathogen, Bacillus anthracis. Everybody has feared this deadly bug, in the white powder form for several years. We decided on erythromycin as our acting antibiotic, because most Bacillus thuringiensis strains are susceptible to it. We will let the bacteria grow for several days in microgravity and then expose it to the antibiotic while still in microgravity conditions. Upon arrival to Earth we will calculate the amount of surviving bacteria and compare the data gathered from this specimen to an identical experimental specimen grown on Earth. By comparing these results, we can determine if microgravity had an effect on the antibiotic susceptibility/resistance of these bacteria. Since, previous research shows that the human immune system weakens in space, and that most bacteria are prone to reproduce more rapidly in space, it is vital to understand how microgravity affects bacterial susceptibility/resistance for the health of our astronauts. This experiment is limited, but it could be one small step to the advancement of knowledge in space medicine. If the results show that the antibiotic reacted differently in microgravity, we could then take these experiments to a higher level and try to understand the mechanism of that change. Maybe this could lead to a better understanding of how antibiotics work and what causes bacterial resistance. This small step could lead to a giant leap in medicine for mankind.

Can Methane Gas Be Produced with Natural Resources in Micro-gravity
Grade 8-9, Johnston Middle School
Principal Investigator: Judit Melendez
Co-Investigator: Wendy Mencia
Collaborators: Terrell Gibson and Carolyn Moores
Teacher Facilitator: Lanena Berry, Teacher

Proposal Summary:
There is so much beyond what the eye can see, so much our world hasn’t yet explored. Could there be life out there in the dark space we call our universe? And if there is, wouldn’t we need a way to get to it with resources that are abundant? Our earth contains those types of resources widely spread across its globe. We use them for electricity, farming, cooking, and to support our way of life. One of the most important natural resources is Methane gas. Methane gas can be produced with different types of sources like groundwater, manure, or bacteria. All of those sources can be found right here in Houston! Houston is home to space; it is space city itself. A place like this can be full of natural resources that create so much; we just need to explore them. Winding through Houston’s patchwork of diverse landscapes is our very own muddy oasis, Buffalo Bayou, where Methanogenic Bacteria thrives. The bacteria can also be found in Texas Longhorn, University of Texas’s mascot, manure. The manure used will be from Longhorns being raised on NASA-JSC property. All of these resources will be put inside a container, FME, and will be used to create methane gas. Having the capacity to store 20 times more energy than carbon dioxide makes methane gas, or CH4, a powerful energy source. The gas is also a greenhouse gas which means it is capable of warming the surface atmosphere making our environment hospitable. The creation of it in micro-gravity would be essential to our nation’s plan for humans to reach other extremities in our universe. The absence of air doesn’t affect the production of air. Gravity’s force plays a major role when it comes to creating things. The effects might hold a huge difference when we compare both the ground experiment with the FME.

The Effect of Microgravity on Soybean Growth
Grade 8, Johnston Middle School
Principal Investigator: Yulisa Roman
Collaborator: Terrell Gibson, Graduate Assistant at TSU
Teacher Facilitator: Lanena Berry, Teacher

Proposal Summary:
Soybeans have been shown to be beneficial for the human body like helping to cure cancers and other uses like plastics, pesticides, and oils, all of which are essential for life in space. If any of these things became unavailable to us, then many things in our daily life could change. The study of cells, organelles, and stem cells after floating in microgravity would help determine whether this plant would grow in microgravity and how it will develop. The organelles we will be looking at are mitochondria, chloroplast, and chlorophyll, all of which can contribute to the process of photosynthesis and the color of the plant. This experiment will be analyzed once back on Earth in the lab of Terrell Gibson, a graduate assistant in Texas Southern University. We will analyze the structure in the plant’s cells, stem cells, and roots (if any grow) using an electron microscope. The observation of the distribution and number of these organelles is very important in order to see the effects of microgravity. Scientists here count the number of chlorophyll and how they are distributed. If a difference is found, then maybe we will be able to create and grow a seed that will supply us with much more than just food.


9. Presidio, Texas
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The Effect of Microgravity on the Growth and pH of Lactobacilli Acidophilus
Grade 12, Presidio High School
Co-Principal Investigators: Alvaro Ali Romero and Illiana Fernandez
Collaborator: Rafael Sanchez
Teacher Facilitator: Melody Crowder, Science Teacher

Proposal Summary:
Lactobacillus acidophilus bacterium resides in the human intestines aiding in providing a healthy intestinal tract. L. acidophilus has been used as a healing agent for some gastrointestinal disorders. These microorganisms are also used as probiotics and are commonly found in fermented dairy and other food products. Microgravity has been shown to affect the bone-mineral density causing loss of calcium from bones due to absence of earth’s gravity. This disrupts the process of bone maintenance in its major function of supporting body weight. This is called disuse osteoporosis. Another effect of microgravity is the disuse muscle atrophy which occurs when astronauts lack the natural resistance of gravity which keeps the muscles in good shape and causes muscle loss. This experiment is designed to test how microgravity affects the growth of L. acidophilus bacteria in order to determine if astronauts should be given supplemental probiotics to help maintain normal digestion and prevent bone loss. Without proper digestion the muscular and skeletal systems will not function efficiently.

Chemical Analysis of the Effect of Gravity on Capsicum Chinese ‘Habanero’
Grade 7, Lucy Rede Franco Middle School
Principal Investigator: Lisa Marie Pena
Co-Investigators: Juan Nieto and Vanessa Rohanna
Collaborators: Alma Baeza and Maxwell Ferguson
Teacher Facilitator: Ernie G. Monte, Science 7 Teacher

Proposal Summary:
Chili pepper is a daily part of our meals. Growing up in a Hispanic family in a US-Mexico border town, chili has been a prominent fixture in every menu for hundreds of years. Its popularity has crossed many borders including space. When it comes to living in space, taste has become a unifying element that transcends cultures and boundaries. So why not explore this hot topic? Studies show that chili can provide a variety of medicinal or health benefits that range from relieving pain to fighting cancer. The nutritive value of chili is largely determined by ascorbic acid content. In fact, chili pepper packs more vitamin C than an orange. In this experiment, we will conduct a chemical analysis of Capsicum chinense ‘Habanero’ after its exposure to two different gravitational conditions. The goal is to gain knowledge about the effect of microgravity on Habanero chili. Kloeris (2008), manager of ISS food systems at the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston affirmed that food is just a big psychological thing and anyone that has flown to the space station has been concerned about their food. Providing them more flavorful food is the least we can do to alleviate the harsh conditions that these astronauts have to go through living in space. This and the insights on medicinal value of chili are the reasons why we pursue this hot topic.

Passive Diffusion Across a Semi-Permeable Membrane in Microgravity
Grade 12, Presidio High School
Principal Investigator: Rafael Sanchez
Collaborators: Alvaro Ali Romero and Illiana Fernandez
Teacher Facilitator: Melody Crowder, Teacher

Proposal Summary:
The kidney is an organ in the human body that filters waste products from the blood. The kidney helps keep the blood clean and chemically balanced. It is essential in keeping the human body healthy and alive. Kidneys take wastes and excess water from the blood and turn it into urine which is stored in the bladder and expelled through the urethra. If the kidney malfunctions, the blood will collect excessive nitrogenous waste and toxic materials. If both kidneys fail it is necessary to undergo either hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis where blood is filtered and waste products are removed. This experiment models the function of the glomerulus of the kidney. It will simulate how individual kidney cells respond to microgravity where it demonstrates passive diffusion. The results of the study will provide information on the efficiency of passive diffusion of macromolecules such as proteins, in different gravitational conditions.


10. Russell County, Virginia
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The Rate of Oxidation in a Microgravity Environment
Grades 10-11, Lebanon High School
Co-Principal Investigators: Diana Odhiambo, Donna Odhiambo, Jacob Akers, and McKenna Collins
Teacher Facilitator: Jane H. Carter, Chemistry Teacher

Diana Odhiambo (2nd from left) explains her team’s experiment on the rate of oxidation of copper and iron in a microgravity environment during a local media day. Other team members are (left to right) Donna Odhiambo, Jakob Akers, and McKenna Collins. Click for Zoom

Proposal Summary:
It was hard deciding the experiment that we were going to conduct. So we came up with a guideline of what our question must be. It had to be relevant as a daily occurrence on earth while still having factors that would make it important to space and space travel as well. Using this guideline, we came up with the idea of oxidation. The metals that we chose to oxidize were iron and copper. We chose iron because of its use in many buildings and tools; if something made of metal was sent into space, it would most like be made of an iron alloy. In contrast, we chose copper because of its properties as a thermal and electrical conductor, not to mention the fact that it’s completely recyclable, which is very useful when there is a scarcity of resources, like in space. We decided that we should use water as the oxidizer. Since the corrosion of metals through oxidation happens because the hydrogen atoms in water bond with other elements which at times results in acids that corrode the metal. In a microgravity environment, the elements would still combine, however the water would be in contact with the metals less frequently. In addition, water’s adhesion property wouldn’t be applicable, so once in contact with the metal, water would not cling to it. This would undoubtedly lower the rate of oxidation. In conclusion, if we send the iron, copper, and water into space, then the oxidation rate will be slower.

The Effects of Zero-Gravity on Stain Remover
Grade 8, Lebanon High School
Principal Investigator: Xena Breeding
Co-Investigators: Christian Amos, Matthew Looney, and Matthew Mowrey
Teacher Facilitator: Jani Purtee, Teacher

Proposal Summary:
We would like to test the effects of stain remover in zero-gravity. We feel this information would be of significant importance for long journeys into space, such as the three year journey to mars.
We have researched and learned that as far as removing stains from fabric, “like dissolves like”. A stain made of hydrocarbons can be removed by a hydrocarbon solvent. Stains from fatty substances can be removed with organic solvents. Soap is a surfactant and the sulfonates listed in the ingredients for many spot removers and cleaners are also surfactants. A surfactant molecule contains long hydrocarbon tail with a small polar head. Surfactants reduce the surface tension of water, allowing the water to penetrate and completely wet the fabric; they surround molecules in a stain and carry them into solution. The surfactant molecules in the stain remover are strongly attracted to the water and lift soil from the fabric that normally would not dissolve in water alone. We would like to determine if a stain would be lifted from a fabric in zero-gravity conditions. We have chosen Hunts spaghetti sauce as a stain and Resolve Brand In-Wash stain remover as our solvent for this experiment. We will perform the experiment in class using the same conditions for comparison.

Sea Monkey See, Sea Monkey Do!
Grade 7, Castlewood Elementary
Principal Investigator: Allison Skeens
Co-Investigator: Haley Duty
Collaborators: Grayson Wright and Lexi Monk
Teacher Facilitator: Mitzi Johnson, STEM Teacher

Proposal Summary:
What we are proposing to you today is: what happens when brine shrimp (Sea Monkey) eggs are exposed to microgravity. We chose this topic because Brine Shrimp could help the muscle growth of the astronauts, up in space muscles of astronauts are lost at 3.5 or 5.2 ml of muscle every two weeks. If we send brine shrimp eggs to space, the astronauts can feed off them like caviar, with certain upsides. Brine Shrimp live up to two years with proper care, and can also live in different environments, such as space itself. The produce known as green algae helps them breathe. Brine shrimp are also known as time travelers, asleep in a biological time capsule. Join us on our fascinating journey to educate ourselves and others on the fascinating life form known as Sea Monkeys.


11. Shoreline, Washington
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Crystal Growth with Impurities in Microgravity
Grade 6, Highland Terrace Elementary School
Co-Principal Investigators: Aden Helland, Matthew McMillan, Tuguldur Myagmarsuren, Jack Parkinson, and Dylan Probizanski
Teacher Facilitator: Peggy Nordwall, 6th Grade Teacher

Students from Einstein Middle School in the Shoreline School District work collaboratively on their proposals. Click for Zoom

Proposal Summary:
Our question is, “When the FME is broken and an alum seed crystal is mixed together with a saturated alum solution and a copper sulfate solution, will the crystal pick up copper as an impurity as it grows?” We’ll immerse an alum seed crystal into a saturated alum solution and add a copper sulfate solution in order to introduce an impurity. It has been demonstrated that crystals grown in microgravity are purer (Conjuring Crystals and Rogers et al., 1997). Our hypothesis is that a purer alum crystal will grow, and that the copper impurity will not be incorporated into the crystal structure. This is important because, if we are correct, this might assist science and technology. For example, it would be of use when fabricating single crystals with less impurity for use as semi-and superconductors. We will observe whether or not the seed crystal has picked up the copper impurity when the crystal is returned to us from the Space Station. We will make observations, weigh, and measure the growth of the crystals formed on the ground and in microgravity. If we can’t directly see the blue color that indicates copper impurities in the crystal with our own eyes, then we will use a binocular microscope. Further analysis will be done with a Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) with an Energy Dispersive Spectroscopy (EDS). The SEM-EDS produces an elemental analysis of the crystal composition including any contaminates such as copper, and produces the results based on an elemental spectrum. We expect, since it has been documented that crystals grown in microgravity are purer than those of the same composition grown on Earth, that the alum crystals grown in space should not have the copper impurity.

Structural Changes of Pseudomonas aeruginosa Lipid A in Microgravity
Grade 8, Albert Einstein Middle School
Co-Principal Investigators: Lisa Jensen, Julia Manfredini, Francisca Ritoch, and Joely Shepard
Teacher Facilitator: Mary Thurber, 8th Grade Science Teacher

Proposal Summary:
For our experiment, we will be sending up the Gram-negative bacterium, Pseudomonas aeruginosa (PA), along with a defined growth medium supplemented with 1mM MgC12 (high magnesium). The goal of this experiment is to determine if the lipid A component of the major outer membrane molecule lipopolysaccharide (LPS) in PA is altered upon growth in a microgravity environment. Lipid A (also known as endotoxin) is the membrane anchor of LPS and has been shown previously to play an important role in virulence of PA, especially in patients with cystic fibrosis (CF). PA isolated from the airways of patients with CF specifically synthesize a modified lipid A structure. Growth of laboratory isolates of PA under high magnesium conditions suppress these CF-specific lipid A modifications that make the bacteria “invisible” to CF patients and potentially increasing its virulence. As PA is present everywhere in the environment, but not normally harmful to those without the CF gene mutation, we would like to determine the effect of growth under microgravity on PA lipid A. Growth of PA at high Mg conditions will allow us to detect the presence of any CF-specific lipid A. This is important because if the lipid A structure is modified as a result of microgravity, then perfectly healthy astronauts could be vulnerable to a PA bacterial infections.

Fluid Diffusion In Microgravity
Grade 8, Albert Einstein Middle School
Co-Principal Investigators: Connor Austin, Yann Dardonville, Noah Hoppis, and Brianna Prosch
Teacher Facilitator: Mary Thurber, 8th Grade Science Teacher

Proposal Summary:
The experiment our group is suggesting is testing the effect of microgravity on the surface tension of fluids with different densities. More specifically, oils that can be refined into polymers and fuels for space travel. To successfully test the subject of surface tension of fluids in microgravity, we need to see the how the two fluids distribute in one and another. The fluids we are using are Hydrochloric acid and mineral oil, because when combined, they don’t react. There will be five strips of Magnesium lining the container. The Hydrochloric acid will be dispersed in the oil and the acid will etch a map of its position in the tube on the Magnesium. Then, two hours later, the NaOH (dissolved in water) will be added in the second ampule. This mixture will neutralize the acid, stopping the decomposition of the Magnesium and therefore, save in place exactly where the acid is. The resulting position will allow us to see where the fluids migrated in microgravity. Then we can compare it to the exact experiment done on earth with gravity present and see the difference in how the two fluids move.

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The Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) is a program of the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE) in the U.S., and the Arthur C. Clarke Institute for Space Education internationally. It is enabled through a strategic partnership with NanoRacks LLC, working with NASA under a Space Act Agreement as part of the utilization of the International Space Station as a National Laboratory. SSEP is the first pre-college STEM education program that is both a U.S. national initiative and implemented as an on-orbit commercial space venture.