Selected Experiments on SSEP Mission 5 to ISS

The Student Spaceflight Experiments Program is proud to report that there were a total of 1,344 proposals submitted from student teams across the 15 communities participating in Mission 5 to ISS. Of those, 485 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 December 3 and 4, 2013, the Step 2 Review Board met at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, reviewed all 45 finalist proposals, and selected one proposal to fly for each community, for a total of 15 flight experiments. On December 16, 2013, The National Center for Earth and Space Science Education formally notified each community of their selected flight experiments.

It is noteworthy that the 1,344 proposals received reflected a total of 6,750 grade 5-12 students fully engaged in experiment design.

All 45 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 5 to ISS.

Congratulations to the nearly 7,000 students and their teachers participating in Student Spaceflight Experiments Program Mission 5 to the International Space Station.

 

1. Teachers in Space Inc. (TiS) and Space Frontier Foundation
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SELECTED FOR FLIGHT:
Affected Efficacy of Sprayed Enamel Coating as a Corrosion Inhibitor
Grade 7-8, Milton L. Olive Middle School, Wyandanch Union Free School District, New York
Co-Principal Investigators: Alayna Appolon and Zaire McQueen
Co-Investigators: Vanessa Argueta, Maria Blanco, Geneve Carbajal, Fabio Compere, Harpaven Dhariwal, Britney Huauya-Flores, Marcine Jeannot, Brenda Lagos, Jose Lopez, Ariela Martinez, Kimberly Martinez, Macy McCalla, Utomi Nwaesei, Lilia Parrilla, Henry Pereira, Princess Pereira, Brandy Salguero, Samantha Sills, Jessica Urias, Evelyn Vanegas, Mirna Ventura Molina, Richard Wilson, and Anthony Yumpo
Teacher Facilitator: David B. Milch, Technology Teacher

Proposal Summary:
Our team’s focus is on the effectiveness of Rust-Oleum’s ‘Stops Rust’ spray paint. We will evaluate the resilience of the coating on Earth to its resilience in a microgravity environment. Due to familiarity, Coca-Cola will be used as the corrosive agent (also, multiple bottles from the same lot may be easily acquired). We will affix two iron disks (99.5% pure Fe) uniformly sprayed with the protective coating, as well as two disks without a coating, onto an acrylic strip using silicone caulking underneath. A 72-hour exposure to the soda will occur on the ISS and on Earth, stopped via a polymer absorbing the Coca-Cola. The remaining average coating thickness will be measured to within 0.1μm as well as visually inspecting the surfaces assisted by a microscope.

HONORABLE MENTION FINALISTS:
The Effect of Microgravity on the Germination of Space-Exposed and Earth-Based Cinnamon Basil Seeds
Grade 12, St. John’s Military School, Salina, Kansas
Co-Principal Investigators: Eli Harmon, Levi Harmon, David Schmaus, Adam Walther, and Jacob Wiese
Teacher Facilitator: Pam Kraus, Chemistry/Integrated Science Teacher

Proposal Summary:
This experiment is relevant because the study of seed germination in microgravity could prove important as future exploration of space requires astronauts to grow their own food. If seeds are exposed to the effects of space, scientists need to know if it will nullify their ability to grow, thus eliminating food supply.

Previous experiments have documented the lack of geotropism (the growth direction of plant roots with respect to Earth’s gravity) in plants that germinate and grow in microgravity, and this experiment will build upon that knowledge as well as posing new questions to be answered.

This experiment will examine the germination and growth of both space-exposed cinnamon basil seeds as well as Earth-based cinnamon basil seeds in microgravity. The seeds will be grown in hydrogel water crystals to provide a sustained-release delivery system for the seed’s water supply, and eliminate the possibility of bacterial growth. A ground truth experiment that simulates the same growing conditions present on the ISS (with the exception of microgravity), will be conducted simultaneously in Earth’s gravitational conditions. The experiment will test the ability of both space-exposed and earth-based seeds to germinate and grow in microgravity, and will display any differences in growth compared to seeds grown on Earth. The hypothesis of the researchers is that the space-exposed seeds will be able to grow in microgravity, and the growth will be unaffected by the tendencies of geotropism that occur on Earth, resulting in directionless root growth.

The Effects of Microgravity on the Growth Rate of Tumor Cells
Grade 11-12, Walter G. O’Connell Copiague High School, Copiague School District, New York
Co-Principal Investigators: Heather Konko and Zachary Wilson
Collaborators: Joseph Amorosino, Marcia Aracena, Maryann Assaf, Bryan Bena, Thomas Clark, Nadia Dudley, Christopher Dundon, William Estevez, Gabriela Figueroa, Michael Hararah, William Hernandez, Eduardo Ortega, Montell Robinson, Carlos Saravia, and Steven Velasquez
Teacher Facilitator: Joseph Vanasco, AP Chemistry Teacher

Proposal Summary:
Studying cancer in microgravity conditions may seem odd to most because a vast amount of terrestrial research is currently being conducted. However, biologists have discovered that microgravity creates a unique environment that allows for normality in cell growth and reduction in function impairments, compared to samples grown in laboratories on Earth. Cells within the human body grow using support structures consisting of carbohydrates and proteins. While cell structures within the human body are grown three dimensionally, in a laboratory scientists grow cultures on a two-dimensional surface, which causes abnormal formations and inaccurate observations. This structural difference leads to functional differences within the colony. In microgravity, cells can move freely and arrange themselves in three-dimensional structures, more closely mimicking the nature of the human body.

This experiment will determine the effect of microgravity on the rate of cell colony (tumor) growth. The results of the experiment will be comparing the amount of cells grown in microgravity to the amount of cells grown on Earth. TP63 (tumor protein 63), contained within the experimental cells, activates and deactivates many genes at any given time. These genes are responsible for regulating a variety of cell activities in a human body such as proliferation, cell adhesion, and apoptosis. TP63 is directly involved with a multitude of cancers including cervical, colon, head and neck, lung, and ovarian. This serves as the main purpose of interest for the base of this study. The experiment will determine if microgravity slows or quickens the rate of tumor growth of TP63 cells.

 

2. Flagstaff, Arizona
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SELECTED FOR FLIGHT:
How does an onion root cell divide in microgravity?
Grade 7, Northland Preparatory Academy
Co-Principal Investigators: Asa Avelar, Dylan Wachowski, and Ethan Willis
Teacher Facilitator: Susan Brown, Science Teacher

Student researchers assessing required volumes of water and ethanol fixative.

Student researchers Avelar, Wachowski, and Willis assessing required volumes of water and ethanol fixative.

Proposal Summary:
We want to know if onion root cells will be able to replicate DNA in the absence of gravity. We will germinate an onion seed on board the International Space Station (ISS) and on Earth. We will analyze the cells of the root of each sample to determine if there are any mutations during DNA replication. We predict that the cells, during the process of cell division, will have trouble replicating in a microgravity environment. If we learn that mutations are common place in space, then the ramifications are great for all organisms including astronauts.

HONORABLE MENTION FINALISTS:
Space Sugar
Grade 7, Northland Preparatory
Co-Principal Investigators: Tommy Acker, Spencer Larsen, and Noah Richardson
Teacher Facilitator: Susan Brown, Science Teacher

Proposal Summary:
Our question is “Will a weightless environment affect the structure and growth of sugar crystals?” Our group proposed this experiment because this could help us make a rule about growth of crystals in a microgravity environment. Crystal growth on Earth can be created by making a super-saturated solution of sugar and water heated up and then using seed crystal or some sort of guide for the crystals like a string to start the crystals growing. Our experiment is designed to grow sugar crystals aboard the ISS and on Earth to see if there is any difference between the two. We believe that the crystals grown in microgravity will grow more and have less density but they will have the same structure if they grow in a weightless environment. After a six-week period we will compare the controlled sample, the crystals grown on Earth, and the experiment sample, the crystals grown in microgravity, to see if there is any difference in the crystal structure. This is important because it might help us establish a rule for all crystal growth in space.

OxiClean® Microgravity Reactions
Grade 6, Northland Preparatory Academy
Principal Investigators: Madelynn Kaiser and Andrea Keegan
Teacher Facilitator: Kaci Heins, Teacher

Proposal Summary:
The focus of this experiment will demonstrate how OxiClean® will react with a stained piece of cloth in space. We will have water, OxiClean®, which is a stain remover, and an oil-stained piece of cloth in the tube that will be sent to a microgravity environment. We want to see if the chemical reactions with the sodium percarbonate in the OxiClean® along with the water are different in space rather than on Earth.

We know that sodium percarbonate is 60% of what OxiClean® consists of, but the sodium percarbonate works along with the other ingredients to clean the stain, and without it or the other ingredients, including water, the stain cannot be cleaned. Along with the sodium percarbonate, OxiClean® needs oxygen to work.

We also know that there are a lot of moving parts on the International Space Station (ISS) that need to be oiled and greased, and while the astronaut is oiling and greasing, there is a possibility that the oil will get on their clothes. If the oil does get on the astronauts clothes, they will have OxiClean® to remove the stain so the clothes can be used over and over.

 

3. Santa Rosa, California
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SELECTED FOR FLIGHT:
Triops as a Protein Source
Grade 7-8, Mark West Charter School, Mark West Union School District
Grade 5-6, Riebli Elementary School, Mark West Union School District
Co-Principal Investigators: Maya Favela, Hannah Froman, Dylan Kattengill, Robert Langer, Layla Morris, and Cassidy Walton
Co-Investigators: Joe Brown, Anthony Campos, Aidan Gomon, Lauren Des-Bordes, Emily Johnson, Jesus Mendoza-Bernabe, Fern Rodriguez, and Nellie Sedeno
Teacher Facilitators: Corissa Sunde, Mark West Charter, Science Teacher; Andrea Farrell and Stacey Fong, Riebli Elementary, Elementary Teachers

MWCS and Riebli student researchers experimenting with Triops.

MWCS and Riebli student researchers experimenting with Triops.

Proposal Summary:
The focus of this project is to study the feasibility of Triops longicaudatus as a protein source to help sustain life in space with microgravity conditions. In addition to plant-based diets, producing a food source that is rich in protein and can fit in the confines of a space station will be necessary. We propose to study whether Triops longicaudatus hatch and grow well in microgravity as a possible protein source for long term flight conditions.

HONORABLE MENTION FINALISTS:
Super Absorbent Polymer as a Medium for Plant Germination in Microgravity
Grade 5-6, Riebli Elementary School, Mark West Union School District
Grade 7-8, Mark West Charter School, Mark West Union School District
Principal Investigators: Maya Favella, Hannah Froman, Dylan Kattengill, Robert Langer, Olin Piotter, Caitie Stephens, Layla Morris, and Cassidy Walton
Co-Investigators: Madelyn Day, Abbi Donovan, Kelly Fleischer, Gabby Galvan, Alana Leake, Mia Locks, Isabella Michaels, Miranda Rivas, and Bella Vest
Teacher Facilitators: Corissa Sunde, Mark West Charter, Science Teacher; Andrea Farrell and Stacey Fong, Riebli Elementary, Elementary Teachers

Proposal Summary:
Plant gel mediums (super absorbent polymers) have properties advantageous to germinating and growing plants in microgravity. Plants would be useful as a food source and also for converting carbon dioxide expelled by astronauts into oxygen. Growing them in microgravity is problematic because if any water or soil escapes the container, damage could be done to the environment, particularly electronic components. Plant gel granules or gel beads encapsulate the water making them a safer medium for growth.

Besides encapsulating the water, plant gel has other positive properties for use in space. It is 100% non-toxic and has a shelf life of five to seven years. The gel with added nutrients can provide vitamins and minerals directly to the plant roots starting at germination. The gel can also absorb many times its weight in tap water and release it gradually to the plants. Over 90% of the water and any added plant food are readily available to the root system of the plant as it germinates and grows. For this project it is proposed to germinate and start growth of basil seeds in plant gel to ensure it will be an effective plant growth medium for use in microgravity.

Sugar Crystal Production in Microgravity
Grade 5, Riebli Elementary School, Mark West Union School District
Grade 7-8, Mark West Charter School, Mark West Union School District
Co-Principal Investigators: Dylan Kattengill, Robert Langer, Ian Rose, and Olin Piotter
Co-Investigators: Clara Cantarutti, Ashton Clinton, Edgar Cruz, Katelin Danoff, Dylan Pederson, Jackson Fisk, Eric Johnson, Ryan Larkin, Owen McCannell, and Haley Prestidge
Teacher Facilitators: Corissa Sunde, Mark West Charter, Science Teacher; Andrea Farrell and Stacey Fong, Riebli Elementary, Elementary Teachers

Proposal Summary:
The focus of this experiment is to learn how crystal production is affected by microgravity. Research indicates that crystals form more accurately and larger in microgravity, so our experiment will determine whether producing rock candy crystals could provide a form of quick energy for astronauts. If simple sugar crystals can be grown in microgravity, it is possible that in the future, more complex energy sources could be produced. Examples include complex sugar crystals or perhaps a protein rich crystal that could provide a more complete food source.

This experiment consists of creating a saturated solution of three parts sugar to one part water that will be in one section of the FME, separated from a chenille stem (pipe cleaner) in the other section. Once in microgravity, the solution will be released and allowed to adhere to the chenille stem where crystals will begin to form. If crystals are formed more accurately and larger than in the ground experiment, it will make a top quality rock candy substance which could be used for quick energy and would also indicate the possibility of more complex energy sources being formed through crystallization in microgravity.

 

4. Washington, DC – Cesar Chavez Charter School Cluster
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SELECTED FOR FLIGHT:
Growth of Radish Plant in Microgravity
Grade 9, Chavez Prep, Cesar Chavez Public Charter School for Public Policy
Co-Principal Investigators: Megan Ramos, Lizeth Urioso, and Michelle Vanegas-Lacan
Teacher Facilitator: Ms. Swain, Earth Science Teacher

Co-PIs Michelle Vanegas-Lacan, Lizeth Urioso, and Megan Ramos discussing the operation of the FME mini-lab..

Co-PIs Michelle Vanegas-Lacan, Lizeth Urioso, and Megan Ramos discussing the operation of the FME mini-lab.

Proposal Summary:
The purpose of this experiment is to see if microgravity has an effect on the way that radish seeds grow. The roots and shoots of plants usually need gravity to be able to grow in a specific direction. Roots grow towards gravity, usually in the direction towards the center of the Earth, and the shoots grow away from gravity towards the sky. The reason this experiment is being done is because the roots and shoots of a plant might grow in different directions in microgravity on the ISS than they grow on Earth, which could affect how the plant creates food and develops. It was predicted that the roots will grow in many different directions instead of one direction like they do on Earth because there is less gravity. To test this experiment a Type 3 FME tube will contain water in Volume 1, a sponge and two radish seeds in Volume 2, and 91% isopropyl alcohol in Volume 3. In addition to the experiment done in space, another experiment with the same materials is going to be done on Earth. When the experiment in space comes back to Earth, the plant that was kept here on Earth will be compared to the plant that was sent to space. The information will help see how microgravity affects a plant’s growth. If the results are similar then that means that microgravity does not have a big impact on a plant’s growth.

HONORABLE MENTION FINALISTS:
Vitamin C Tablet Dissolving in Stomach Acid in Microgravity
Grade 9, Chavez Prep, Cesar Chavez Public Charter School for Public Policy
Co-Principal Investigators: Luis Alvarado and Stephanie Bueno
Co-Investigators: Matthew Beltre and Carlos Merino
Teacher Facilitator: Ms. Swain, Earth Science Teacher

Proposal Summary:
Our experiment is to see if a Vitamin C tablet will dissolve faster or slower in microgravity than the time it takes to dissolve on Earth. If the Vitamin C tablet does dissolve faster in microgravity, then this can lead to new information on how to produce a tablet to have the same effects and timing as a tablet on Earth. In this experiment, we will use a Type 3 FME tube, which will contain a Vitamin C tablet, soluble fiber, simulated stomach acid, and a base that will neutralize the acid, which will be Pepto Bismol. The Vitamin C tablet will dissolve in the simulated stomach acid with the soluble fiber when the the first two volumes are unclamped. With the Vitamin C tablet, there will be soluble fiber so the digestion of the tablet will be slower. After, the third volume with the Pepto Bismol will be unclamped to neutralize and “freeze” the acid with the tablet. This will allow us to observe how much of the Vitamin C dissolved while in microgravity when the tube returns from space. The same experiment done in space will be done on Earth in order to compare the results. The data collected from this experiment can lead to new ways to make a tablet or food that has the sufficient amount of Vitamin C for astronauts to be healthy.

3D Printing Plastic Dissolving in Microgravity
Grade 9, Chavez Prep, Cesar Chavez Public Charter School for Public Policy
Co-Principal Investigators: Elvin Bonilla and Eric Leon
Co-Investigator: William Cruz
Teacher Facilitator: Ms. Swain, Earth Science Teacher

Proposal Summary:
This experiment is to see if the plastic used in 3D printing, acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), will dissolve in microgravity using Acetone. The way we are going to perform this experiment is by using a Type 3 FME tube to mix ABS in Volume 1 and Acetone in Volume 2. After three days we are going to release soapy water from Volume 3 in order to neutralize the experiment. The problem with using ABS for 3D printing is that it isn’t reusable, which means additional materials will have to be sent to space regularly. This means that extra money for fuel and new ABS will have to be spent. Polylactic Acid (PLA) is another plastic used for 3D printing and is reusable, but due to insufficient data on the chemical reconstitution process, we couldn’t do an experiment testing PLA. There are other ways to reuse PLA, but we can’t grind or reheat PLA in the International Space Station (ISS). The results of this experiment will help NASA get rid of materials that they won’t be needing anymore as a way to save on space while using the 3D printer in space. In the future, we recommend another experiment be done to test the feasibility of reconstituting PLA while in the ISS.

 

5. Hillsborough County, Florida
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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

Isabelle, Srinidhi, and Miranda preparing lettuce seeds to test if microgravity affects the growth/germination of lettuce seeds.

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.

 

6. Jefferson County, Kentucky
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SELECTED FOR FLIGHT:
Will microgravity conditions increase the rate of yeast fermentation in honey?
Grade 9-12, The Academy @ Shawnee, Jefferson County Public Schools
Co-Principal Investigators: Jacob Boeschel, Ted Loeser, Lance Winemiller, and Deandre Curry
Co-Investigators: Elizabeth Bates, Joseph Jewell, Jacob Boeschel, Peyton Adelmann, James Vance, Sean Moore, Brittany Jarboe, Miranda Strane-Harris, and Anthony Watson
Teacher Facilitator Imogen Herrick, Science Teacher

Proposal Summary:
Jefferson County, KentuckyWe are testing the effects of microgravity on the production of alcohol by yeast in a viscous honey/water medium. Yeast is a single-celled organism. When yeast consumes simple sugars such as glucose, the byproducts are carbon dioxide and ethanol. Yeast can’t live on sugar alone. It is most active in an environment with other nutrients. Honey has many of these nutrients but is more resistant to being fermented. A pure honey solution will ferment, but on Earth it can take three months to a year. We believe that when introduced in an environment with microgravity the fermentation of yeast will speed up because the molecules will be in a state of constant free fall therefore increasing the rate of reaction. We will measure the specific gravity of our samples and use the BRIX scale to determine remaining sugar concentration. Both samples will be further analyzed by using a pH meter to determine acidity of each sample. Comparing acidity will also provide evidence for which solution produced more alcohol. On Earth, yeast fermentation is used to make a variety of drinking alcohols. However, alcohol can be utilized in many other forms such as antiseptics or in the production of several foods. Antiseptics are vital to the medical industry for the removal of bacteria. If this data shows a higher yield of alcohol in microgravity, the space station could have a sustainable source of many vital essentials, and there would be a higher understanding of how micro-organisms react in microgravity.

HONORABLE MENTION FINALISTS:
Do Pinto Beans Germinate in a Microgravity Environment?
Grade 6, The Academy @ Shawnee Middle School, Jefferson County Public Schools
Co-Principal Investigator: Todrick Bradley, Salena Corley, Joseph Falcon, Justina Gossman, Skylar Hutchinson, Cameron Preu, Dustin Rodgers, and Kevin Thomas
Co-Investigators: Zachary Abbe, Connor Angel, Jeantay Ashby, Izhea Barnes, Josiah Bivens, Byron Bowman, Tyliyah Bunzy, Jacob Burt, Earl Carthen, Atticus Cooper, Alysa Defee, Alexander Green, Allen Greenwell, Gueneverie Diffenbaucher, Braden Fryrear, Treyvon Groves, Keegan Hall, Tyrel Harrison, Ernesto Hernandez, Jaden Malone, Gillian Moffitt, Taylor Owens, Corey Robinson, Jessica Rodgers, Serena Royalty, Savannah Saunders, Darrion Stockton, Miracle Taylor, Ronnie Tuberville, Anthony Vargas, and William Wicker
Teacher Facilitator: Apryl L. Moore, Science Teacher

Proposal Summary:
Beans are found all over the world and every year over 20 million tons are grown. The variety of beans includes differences in size, shape, length of time until maturity and conditions needed for germination.

Our experiment proposes to study if pinto beans germinate in a microgravity environment the same as they germinate in a non-microgravity environment. The bean we chose to use is the pinto bean, which is a common bean. The scientific name for the bean is Phaseolus vulgaris. The pinto bean is name for the spotted skin.

Our procedure includes using store-bought pinto beans and soaking them for several hours prior to the start of the experiment. After soaking, the beans will be placed in an ideal growing environment for them – potting soil, water and full access to sunlight. We will compare the number of days required for visible germination to begin and length of leaves once sprouting has begun.

Like many beans the pinto is full of fiber, vitamins and minerals. A diet rich in beans is beneficial for helping to boost metabolism. Our goal is to determine if beans can grow normally in microgravity. If pintos grow normally, astronauts may be able to use pinto beans as a resource to maintain metabolism and balance during prolonged time spent in microgravity.

Do St. John’s Wort seeds germinate in a microgravity environment?
Grade 9-12, The Academy @ Shawnee High School, Jefferson County Public Schools
Principal Investigator: Deandre Curry
Co-Principal Investigators: James Vance, Lance Winemiller, Jacob Boeschel, Brittany Jarboe, Joe Jewell, Ted Loeser, Sean Moore, Peyton Adelmann, and Elizabeth Bates
Teacher Facilitator: Imogen Herrick, Science Teacher

Proposal Summary:
Hypericum perforatum, or St. John’s Wort, is a plant used for medicinal purposes. Commonly, the leaves of this plant are used as a natural medicine to heal wounds and burns. While modern medicines can be effective treatments for ailments, the attainment and transport of medicine to the ISS can be expensive. If astronauts so choose, they also may extract the active compounds from St. John’s Wort and use it as a dietary supplement. Given the number and nature of this plant’s uses, it is potentially of interest to us and to the ISS as a resource in space.

We are interested in using St. John’s Wort as a renewable natural treatment for wounds and burns on the ISS. As a “stage one” experiment, we propose to attempt germination of the plant in space. We will compare the growth of the plant to a control plant on Earth by comparing the lengths. By doing so, we will be able to determine the growth size of the plant and, consequently, the speed of growth of the plant in microgravity relative to that of the plant on Earth. This will help us determine the effectiveness of growing St. John’s Wort in space and, ultimately, its viability as a renewable treatment for astronauts on the ISS. If the St. John’s Wort plant is capable of germinating and growing in space, then it may be an eligible subject to study further for these purposes.

 

7. Howard County, Maryland
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SELECTED FOR FLIGHT:
Core-Shell Micro/Nanodisks: Microencapsulation in Two Dimensions under Microgravity
Grade 8, Murray Hill Middle School, Howard County Public School System
Principal Investigator: Kevin He
Teacher Facilitator: Ed Chrzanowski, Science Teacher

Proposal Summary:
The experiment is primarily designed to study the effects of microgravity on the process of microencapsulation in two-dimensional membranes. Unlike on Earth, microgravity allows all liquids to form thin membranes in metal rings including pure water, which is known to be unable to form membranes under Earth’s gravity. It is expected that the membrane will form core-shell micro/nanodisks or smaller-sized capsules in the microencapsulation process with dimensional constraints. The significant increase of surface area of these micro/nanodisk capsules or smaller-sized capsules would expedite their dissolution process, which may be needed for better control of drug release rates. Specifically, the experiment will be performed in a model system by mixing an aspirin solution and a gelatin solution in space. The mixture will form two-dimensional membranes on the thin platinum wire rings under microgravity through an apparatus. The liquid will then proceed naturally through the coacervation process to form microcapsules within the membranes. After the experimental sample is brought back to Earth, further analysis will be performed on their sizes and shapes using optical microscopy, as well as the concentration of aspirin in a simulated stomach acid over 4 hours. The proposed experiment will not only provide fundamental understanding of microencapsulation in two-dimensional liquid membranes, but also open a door for further research on effective control of drug release.

HONORABLE MENTION FINALISTS:
How Does a Microgravity Environment Affect the Reaction of Blood Glucose Levels to Insulin?
Grade 8, Burleigh Manor Middle School, Howard County Public School System
Co-Principal Investigators: Niki Gooya, Sophie Lovering, Vaishnavi Mahalingam, and Alexandra Pavao
Teacher Facilitator: Daniel Howse, Science Teacher

Proposal Summary:
Astronauts who have ventured into space face vastly different conditions than on Earth. Recently, many astronauts have developed disorders from microgravity conditions. Currently, diabetes is not a problem that has developed from exposure to microgravity, but it can help us learn about how our body functions change in microgravity. Diabetes is a disorder in which the body does not produce insulin effectively. Our project tests the effect of insulin on diabetic blood serum and blood glucose levels in microgravity conditions. Previous studies have shown that the circulatory and cardiovascular systems weaken and become more vulnerable in space. We hypothesize that the blood glucose levels will decrease at a faster pace when exposed to insulin in their more vulnerable state, under microgravity. Additionally, studies have shown that researching cells’ and blood’s responses to insulin in microgravity will play a key role in understanding astronauts’ health problems upon their return to Earth. In space, astronauts experience severe changes to their bodies. One influential difference is that the astronaut no longer uses the full strength of his or her skeletal and muscular systems, as he or she does not stand upright in space. As a result, the bones weaken and the muscles atrophy. In spite of performing resistance exercises in space, the astronauts’ bones and muscles are still weakened upon their return to Earth. Consequently, researching responses to increased insulin, one of the many hormones in the body, in microgravity will lead to a better understanding of the effects of microgravity on humans.

The Effect of Microgravity on the Development of Scruffy Anchovy Eggs with Algae
Grade 8, Lake Elkhorn, Howard County Public School System
Co-Principal Investigators: Nicholas Fitzgerald, Madelyn Harris, Adelina-Dana Hilotii, William Mah
Co-Investigators: Danielle Moser and Lucas Steadman
Collaborators: Jeremy Barr, Daniel Bryer, Steffani O’Neill, and Anthony Toomey
Teacher Facilitator: Kelly Peters, Science Teacher

Proposal Summary:
The project our group will test is how algae affects organisms growth in microgravity. Many types of fish and marine animals have been tested in microgravity, with varied results. Our goal is to enhance the development of marine organisms in microgravity and get better results when humans try to grow fish eggs in space, because we will grow them with algae.

Algae are a large group of aquatic organisms that use photosynthesis to provide themselves with nutrients. During photosynthesis on Earth, they release nutrients that help the fish and give them a short-term benefit by removing waste from the environment, and releasing oxygen and other nutrients that the fish need to live. Therefore, we want to know how the algae will affect the fish’s development when we grow it in microgravity. For this project, we are going to use Scruffy anchovy eggs because based on a study from the University of Stanford, Scruffy Anchovies are the most adaptable kind of fish, and are also a small size. The eggs will be frozen, and packed in the tube with the stigeoclonium. Also, in the tube will be our fixant (Puromycin), and our nutrient broth. Our hypothesis is that over the short period of time the algae will help the Anchovy eggs develop by absorbing the waste from the tube. Astronauts could use this experiment to better the food and life in space.

 

8. Fitchburg, Massachusetts
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SELECTED FOR FLIGHT:
The Production of Antibiotics from Bacillus subtilis in Microgravity
Grade 11, Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School
Co-Principal Investigators: Liza Anderson and Samantha Bratkon
Co-Investigators: Ashley Monroe and Stephanie Tivnan
Teacher Facilitator: Paula deDiego, Chemistry Instructor

Ashley is looking at bacteria under the microscope while Liza, Stephanie and Samantha are discussing analysis ideas.

Ashley is looking at bacteria under the microscope while Liza, Stephanie, and Samantha are discussing analysis ideas.

Proposal Summary:
The purpose of this experiment will be to monitor the production of antibiotics produced from Bacillus subtilis in microgravity compared to its production on Earth. To accomplish this we will send into space a freeze-dried sample of the cell with a growth medium and growth inhibitor, separated by two clamps in the tube. Two weeks prior to the departure from the ISS, the astronaut will release clamp A mixing the reactants. The activated B. subtilis will then be divided into two sections. Two days before the return of the rocket, the astronaut will mix one of the B. subtilis samples with its growth inhibitor. This is done so that after the growth medium and the B. subtilis are mixed, we will be able to compare the effects of microgravity on an activated sample versus a deactivated sample. The growth inhibitor is important because we will be able to monitor whether or not B. subtilis can be preserved and reactivated when necessary to ensure that health treatments can be available without the immediate support of Earth. During the same time period there will be an identical experiment conducted on Earth to provide data to compare with the results of the test in microgravity.

HONORABLE MENTION FINALISTS:
How is the Growth of the Bacteria Agrobacterium tumefaciens Affected by Microgravity?
Grade 10, Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School
Co-Principal Investigators: Jezrielle Bruno and Marina Good
Teacher Facilitator: Paula deDiego, Chemistry Instructor

Proposal Summary:
Our project proposal centers on one concept: How is the growth of the bacteria, Agrobacterium tumefaciens, affected by microgravity? A. tumefaciens is a bacterium that causes “plant cancer” also known as Crown Gall Disease. It has a portion of a T-DNA that inserts itself into the plant’s DNA. The bacterium alters the plant’s genome, causing it to expand and develop a tumor. This experiment will allow us to understand the effects, if any, microgravity has on the growth of A. tumefaciens. We are looking at whether there is a change in growth rate of the bacteria, and whether the production of endotoxins is affected. Typically, the higher the level of endotoxins, the more bacterial growth there is; this is an important factor that will be analyzed after the completion of this experiment.

How Will Microgravity Affect The Growth Rate and Toxin Production of Staphylococcus Epidermidis?
Grade 12, Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School
Co-Principal Investigators: Brandi Richard and Alexandria Stanhope
Collaborators: Anthony Evans and Christopher Malm
Teacher Facilitator: Paula deDiego, Chemistry Instructor

Proposal Summary:
The Student Spaceflight Experiment Program would allow for the research of Staphylococcus epidermidis in microgravity. This opportunistic pathogen inhabits the surface of the human skin and in recent years has been a rising cause of nosocomial infections. This bacteria has the ability to create a biofilm on various surfaces, most commonly medical devices, and can infect humans through skin defects ranging from large cuts or burns to something as small as an inflamed oil gland. With this knowledge comes the main question: How will microgravity affect the growth rate and toxin production of Staphylococcus epidermidis? An increased growth rate will alert astronauts to take precautions when handling medical equipment. Knowing the quantity of the toxins produced by S. epidermidis will provide information to the Crew Medical Officer of the space flight in knowing if this bacteria is a concern when treating injuries. If toxin production increases in microgravity, crew members may be at higher risk of encountering this strand of Staphylococcus and acquiring an infection. By sending a sample of the freeze dried specimen onto the space shuttle in an FME along with its corresponding Trypticase Soy Agar/Broth nutrient, S. epidermidis will begin its activation process required to better understand its development under microgravity. Upon its return to Earth, the specimen will undergo testing to reveal the activity that will have taken place in microgravity. The results from these tests will provide conclusive evidence to answer our inquiry and supply additional information on Staphylococcus epidermidis.

 

9. North Attleborough, Massachusetts
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SELECTED FOR FLIGHT:
If you cut a Dugesia Planarian worm would it grow back in microgravity?
Grade 6, North Attleborough Middle School, North Attleborough Public Schools
Principal Investigator: Chris April
Co-Principal Investigators: David Pacitto and Lily Wetherbee
Teacher Facilitator: Jennifer Murphy, Science Teacher

North Attleborough, Massachusetts

Young North Attleborough Middle School scientists experimenting with planarian worm regeneration here on Earth.

Proposal Summary:
Regeneration is essential to all life forms here on Earth, but is it possible in microgravity? Our group’s experiment is about whether or not a Dugesia Planarian worm can regenerate in microgravity. Our experiment should be put in microgravity to see if human life forms or any life forms would be able to heal a cut in microgravity. Our hypothesis is that the Dugesia Planarian worm will not be able to regenerate in microgravity. We would test this on Earth by cutting the Dugesia Planarian worm in half and observing if it regenerates. We observed via internet video that the Dugesia Planarian worm would be able to regenerate on Earth. This experiment would be useful to future civilization if we ever had to move to a place that exposes us to microgravity. In addition, if someone were wounded it would be beneficial to know if we potentially are able to heal.

HONORABLE MENTION FINALISTS:
Will vinegar clean copper as well in microgravity as it is down on Earth?
Grade 6, North Attleborough Middle School, North Attleborough Public Schools
Principal Investigator: Olivia Boulet
Co-Principal Investigators: Dylan Corrigan and William Redding
Teacher Facilitator: Jennifer Murphy, Science Teacher

Proposal Summary:
Will vinegar strip a rusty copper nail when sent into a microgravity environment? In our experiment we will be testing the materials white rice, vinegar, and a copper nail to rid the nail of oxidation and bacteria. This will benefit the astronauts to help them clean other substances up in space such as the spacecraft windows, counter tops, copper wiring, and machinery with an environmentally friendly substance. This will also help them to clean and get rid of sickness causing bacteria. People need to keep things clean so we don’t get sick. We are giving this common experiment a little twist by sending it up into microgravity. In our experiment we will be measuring the luster of the copper screw and how much vinegar gets soaked up by the rice, compared to the luster of the screw and how much vinegar gets soaked up by our controlled ground truth experiment.

Will hand sanitizer destroy germs in microgravity as well as it does on Earth?
Grade 6, North Attleborough Middle School, North Attleborough Public Schools
Principal Investigators: Angelina Hagstrom
Co-Principal Investigators: Lauren Antonetti, Sierra Antonitis, Kaitlyn Bouchard, and Shannon Kraskouskas
Teacher Facilitator: Tanya Erban, Science Teacher

Proposal Summary:
Hand sanitizer is an important part of our hygiene in our daily life. For people in space, hand sanitizer is a quick alternative to washing hands. But, will it still work? After long and interesting research we now predict that hand sanitizer will work in space, but will it work better in space than on Earth? Most of us think it will. Future space life will increase in the area of health and money because this experiment may lead to using hand sanitizer in space. Astronauts who are ill or who don’t want to be ill can rely on this easy to use product to prevent the spread of germs and save water for other more important uses. We will have Purell hand sanitizer in one volume of the tube and staphylococcus bacteria on the other volume with a clamp in the middle. We will need the astronaut to shake the tube in space. When the experiment comes back to Earth we will compare our results to the control experiment on Earth. We will observe the amount of bacteria in both test tubes using a microscope. Our hope is that these data findings will change life in space and mankind.

 

10. Kansas City, Missouri
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SELECTED FOR FLIGHT:
Oxidation in Space
Grade 8, St. Peter’s School, Kansas City – St. Joseph’s Diocese
Co-Principal Investigators: Anna Campbell, Zoe Butler, Maureen Egan, and Tone’Nae Bradley
Teacher Facilitator: Robert J. Jacobsen, Science Teacher

Scientists Zoe Butler, Maureen Egan, Tone’Nae Bradley-Toomer, and Anna Campbell are studying the SSEP Mission 5 mini-lab, to make sure their oxidation microgravity experiment is compliant with specifications.

Co-PIs Butler, Egan, Bradley-Toomer, and Campbell are studying the FME Mark II mini-lab, to ensure their oxidation experiment is compliant with specifications.

Proposal Summary:
We would like to determine the effect of microgravity upon the process of oxidation. This experiment is being observed because in a spacecraft, there is free flowing water that could damage (or rust) the metal of the interior and exterior of that spacecraft. The rusting of an iron nail will be studied as water is added to its section of the FME. We are looking to determine if oxidation (or rusting) occurs faster, slower, or at all because of microgravity.

HONORABLE MENTION FINALISTS:
Saccharomyces Cerevisiae (Baker’s Yeast)
Grade 8, Della Lamb Middle Charter School, Della Lamb Charter School
Principal Investigator: Janelle Zambrano
Co-Investigators: Waktiya Mandende and Mersedes Penaloza
Collaborators: Viet Le and Cynthia Villages
Teacher Facilitator: Kristen Marriott, Science Teacher

Program Summary:
Our group is conducting an experiment to figure out whether or not the rising of baker’s yeast is affected by the lack of gravity. The experiment includes the following items: traditional yeast (active dry), flour, and water. Our hypothesis is that if the baker’s yeast allows bread to rise on Earth, then will it raise more since there is no gravity pulling it down. We are creating this experiment because bread is essential to our diet. Bread is good for our diet because it is rich in carbohydrates, our primary source of energy. If our experiment is successful then astronauts can eat bread, containing baker’s yeast, without the bread being powered. We hypothesize that the baker’s yeast will rise even more with the lack of gravity in space.

The Effect of Microgravity on the Solubility of Kool-Aid
Grade 7-8, Hogan Preparatory Academy Middle School
Co-Principal Investigators: Rahsaan Collins, Thomas Pacheco, Marquez Jenkins, Joel Asberry, and Eboni Lee
Teacher Facilitator: Anastasia Linebach, Science Teacher

Proposal Summary:
Have you ever had to live without your favorite food or beverage for a substantial amount of time? If you have, then you now that you appreciate those creature comforts even more at your next opportunity to eat or drink them. Our team, Space Elite, would like to provide astronauts on the ISS with another popular beverage, Kool-Aid. However, we need to determine how microgravity affects the solubility. Volume 1 will contain a pre-mixed solution of Kool-Aid. Volume 2 will contain the powdered solute, Kool-Aid. Volume 3 will contain the solvent, water. Clamp B will be released at the astronaut’s first opportunity after arrival in order to mix volumes 2 and 3. We will be looking for evidence of the solute completely dissolving in the solvent so that the Kool-Aid is a homogeneous solution. Studies show that atoms behave differently in the presence of microgravity. Therefore, we need to determine whether or not the atoms in a pre-mixed solution will behave differently than the atoms in the solute and solvent that are separated and mixed after they reach the ISS. When the FME returns, we will compare the two solutions and decide which one appears more homogenous. We do not want to see solute particles floating around because that would imply that the solution is not completely mixed, and we don’t wan the astronaut’s drinking gritty Kool-Aid in space.

 

11. Brookhaven, Mississippi
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SELECTED FOR FLIGHT:
Polyhydroxyalkanoate Production in Zero Gravity
Grade 12, Brookhaven Academy
Co-Principal Investigators: Samantha Barton, Ashlea Bardwell, Garrett Smith, Ruth Vaughn, and Lindsey Winborne
Teacher Facilitator: Leslie Hood, Biology Teacher

SSEp researchers examine their bacterium, Ralstonia eutropha.  The experiment will assess the production of PHA by this bacterium in microgravity. 

SSEP researchers examine their bacterium, Ralstonia eutropha.  The experiment will assess the production of PHA by this bacterium in microgravity.

Proposal Summary:
Will the bacteria, Ralstonia eutropha, maintain its ability to produce polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA) while exposed to a zero gravity environment?

PHA is a biodegradable polyester that can be used to make many things such as medical sutures, vein valve replacement, skin grafts, and several other things. In earth’s gravity, PHA is nontoxic to the human body, allowing it to be safely used for medical purposes (J. Bacteriol, July 2003).

PHA is a short chemical chain composed of a methyl or ethyl group, created by bacterial fermentation. The bacteria that will produce PHA in this experiment is R. eutropha, which is one of several bacteria that can produce PHA. The bacteria produce PHA through bacterial fermentation, which is a process that breaks down a carbon source in a nutrient broth leaving behind pellets of PHA, or plastic.

This experiment will determine whether R. eutropha maintains the ability to produce PHA in zero gravity. If the bacteria can make PHA after being exposed to zero gravity, it will allow for several medical components to be made in space such as medical sutures, vein-valve replacements, skin grafts, and several other things. This production of medical supplies in space will greatly improve medical care for astronauts in space.

HONORABLE MENTION FINALISTS:
Efficacy of Silver Citrate Against Escherichia coli in Microgravity
Grade 11, Brookhaven Academy
Co-Principal Investigators: Shelby Coleman, Renee Kakadia, Bryce Loftin, and Taylor Sanford
Teacher Facilitator: Leslie Hood, Science Instructor

Proposal Summary:
This experiment will determine the effects of Silver citrate on Escherichia coli in microgravity. Therefore, the question to be addressed by the experiment is: What are the effects of microgravity on antimicrobial coating using Silver citrate against E. coli.

Silver itself has been shown to be toxic to bacteria. Silver ions have been proven to effect chemical bonds and interfere with cellular functions in bacteria. The antimicrobial coating, in the form of silver citrate, was chosen for this experiment because it will be absorbed by the E.coli causing the membrane to deform, inevitably killing the E. coli.

This experiment will test the effects of Silver citrate on E.coli in the presence of microgravity. We will Determine if the Silver citrate has a visible effect on the E. coli cell wall/cell membrane by electron microscopy, causing the bacterial cells to be destroyed. On Earth there will be a control consisting of the exact same experiment.

The hypothesis of this experiment is that the antimicrobial coating silver citrate will have a negative effect on E. coli. Specific aims are: examine the incorporation of silver citrate in the membrane of the bacteria as well as in its interior by electron microscopy, and determine the effect of silver nano particles on E. coli gene expression by microarray analysis. The effects of silver nanoparticles on E. coli under normal gravity have already been shown: that antimicrobial coating using silver against E. coli on Earth is an effective antibacterial compound.

Yeast as a Model Organism to Study COX-2 Enzyme Production in Microgravity
Grade 9, Brookhaven Academy
Co-Principal Investigators: Missy Noel Clanton, Mica Bailey Stewart, and Anna Margaret Williams
Teacher Facilitator: Leslie Hood, Science Instructor

Proposal Summary:
Colorectal cancer (CRC) has affected many lives throughout the nation. Studies show that one in twenty people get CRC each year. This cancer is caused by uncontrolled cell growth in the colon, rectum, or appendix. Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. Statistics show that over 90% of people who get colorectal cancer die. Approximately 72% of cases arise in the colon and approximately 28% in the rectum.

Experiments show that the enzyme cyclooxygenase 2 (COX-2) is elevated in 85% of colorectal cancer patients. Aspirin has been shown to inhibit the production of COX-2 enzymes in human test studies. Overexpression of COX-2 results in inflammation and uncontrolled cell growth which may lead to tumor formation. Apoptosis is a highly conserved pathway in eukaryotic organisms to promote programmed cell death (cell suicide) when cell damage can result in cancer. Yeast is often used as a model organism in cancer research. The yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae is used in this study due to its production of the COX-2 enzyme and its suicidal response (apoptosis) to aspirin. Microarray analysis will be used to measure mRNA levels of several thousand genes in yeast, including those involved in the production of COX-2 and the initiation of programmed cell death. The specific aim of this proposal is to evaluate gene expression in S. cerevisiae by microarray analysis. The results from the Earth based experiments will be compared to those exposed to microgravity.

 

12. Pennsauken, New Jersey
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SELECTED FOR FLIGHT:
Penicillium Growth Rate in Microgravity
Grade 8, Pennsauken Phifer Middle School, Pennsauken New Jersey
Co-Principal Investigators: Franshayla Matias, Indyah Chatman, and Miguel Rios
Teacher Facilitator: Mr. T. Gilbride, Science Teacher

Proposal Summary:
What is the growth rate of penicillium? That is our question to our experiment. Penicillin is an antibiotic or group of antibiotics produced naturally by certain blue molds, and now usually prepared synthetically. Our hypothesis is that the growth of the antibiotic (penicillin) in microgravity will grow at a much faster rate. The plan for our experiment is that we’re going to add apple cider in the test tube. But it has to be placed in a dark and warm surrounding. Then the antibiotic should start growing in about three to four days. You wouldn’t have to add any more chemicals… it is east as that. How is this useful? Penicillium can actually be turned into a helpful drug. This helpful drug can be used to treat infections caused by bacteria.

HONORABLE MENTION FINALISTS:
The Effects of Microgravity on the Rate of Digestion
Grade 8, Howard M. Phifer Middle School, Pennsauken School District
Co-Principal Investigators: Tiffany Bouarapha, Rodney Morgan, Faith Soto, and Medina Talebi
Teacher Facilitator: Francetta Johnson, Science Teacher

Proposal Summary:
We are questioning the effects that microgravity may have on the digestion in the human body. We want to know if the duration of the time it takes for food to be digested would be changed in microgravity. We will be using hydrochloric acid as our digestive enzyme and beef jerky as the food to be digested. As a group, we have hypothesized the speed of digestion will not change in microgravity. As it will be the same speed it takes to digest food in a human body on Earth. In our basics of research, we have found that experiments have been done to prove that the speed of digestion in both places does not change. This topic interests us because space is becoming a place where humans will spend long periods of time. We would want to know if processes in the human body, such as digestion, change in microgravity. Specifically, we are hoping to see to learn if the speed of digestion will or will not change in space. The data from this experiment will influence science by allowing us to learn about the obscure topic of digestion in microgravity. Scientist will be able to use our research to determine whether or not human body processes change due to a seemingly loss of gravity.

Effects of Microgravity on Maintaining Muscle Mass with Collagen
Grade 8, Howard M. Phifer Middle School, Pennsauken School District
Co-Principal Investigators: Celinette Azcona, Jennifer Camacho, and Kayla Darby
Teacher Facilitator: Francetta Johnson, Science Teacher

Proposal Summary:
Our question is “What are the effects of microgravity on maintaining muscle mass with collagen?” We believe that muscle mass will be maintained with collagen in microgravity just as it is on Earth. The materials we will use are collagen, chicken leg meat (muscle) and saltwater. The saltwater will help to prevent the chicken from rotting. Collagen is a major structural protein that forms molecular cables, which in turns strengthens the tendons and the resilient sheets that provide support to the skin as well as internal organs of the animals or fish. We are hoping to learn more about how muscles repair in space. It will teach us whether or not it is possible to decrease the amount of muscle mass loss in space. Scientists could use our research to continue looking for ways to reduce the impact of microgravity on muscles.

 

13. New York City, New York – NEST+m
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SELECTED FOR FLIGHT:
What is the effect of microgravity on mold growth on white bread?
Grade 5, New Explorations into Science, Technology, and Mathematics, District 01
Co-Principal Investigators: Noor Ajam, Foyez Alauddin, and Alexander Harris
Teacher Facilitator: Margaux Stevenson, 5th grade teacher

Proposal Summary:
Our question is “What is the effect of microgravity on mold growth on white bread?” We want to do this experiment because before this experiment, we did not know very much about mold growth. It would be really cool to learn about a new topic in microgravity. For this experiment, we will use an FME type one tube. We will use it because the only substance our experiment requires is white bread. Our experiment has no determined initiation, so our procedure is to leave a small sample of white bread in an FME type one tube and to leave it alone for the duration of the mission. Our ground element has the same procedure.

The insight we hope to gain from this experiment involves mold starting out as dust. If there is a lot of mold dust in the air, then it will crowd each other out, and naturally land on the bread. However, if there is little mold dust in the air, then microgravity will carry it away and then it will never land on the bread. Lastly, we plan to measure the results of our ground element and our microgravity element by measuring the area of the mold on the white bread in square inches. We also plan to observe the color of the mold and the color of the white bread. We plan to chart the data on a bar graph.

HONORABLE MENTION FINALISTS:
The Effect of Microgravity on the Mutation of Galactose in Type O Blood
Grade 6, New Explorations into Science, Technology and Mathematics, District 01
Co-Principal Investigators: Jack Neiberg, Felix Scaggiante, and Julius Philp
Teacher Facilitator: Mr. Marvin Cadornigara, Teacher

Proposal Summary:
This experiment aims to determine the effect of microgravity on the mutation of galactose in Type O blood. Type O blood is the most common blood type. while Type AB is the rarest. We believe that the blood antigen oligosaccharides could mutate from the O type to AB type, thus combining to become a universal donor and receiver, Type ABO. The O blood would have to duplicate the cells and grow other galactose carbohydrates, half of which would have to mutate and make Nacetylgalactosamine instead of the regular galactose. It is hypothesized that if the gravity is decreased, then the Type O galactose will both multiply into more galactose and mutate at the same time into Nacetylgalactosamine to develop into additional blood type ABO. Seven mL of type O blood will be placed into the FME1 and allowed to stand for the duration of the flight. The possible mutation in microgravity will be determined by running a blood typing test upon return. The success of this experiment would be a great breakthrough because type ABO blood would be able to be used in many ways, including blood transfusions. As using a special bacterial enzyme can change any blood type into type O, it is believed that microgravity can also provide the same action, only that the reverse reactions are expected. Blood type O can be reversed to blood type AB, then a new blood type ABO can be a medically significant solution to transfusion.

The Effect of PQQ on Muscle Cells in Microgravity
Grade 8, New Explorations into Science, Technology and Math, District 01
Co-Principal Investigators: Jan Kowalski, Dimitriy Leksanov, and Ryan Siu
Teacher Facilitator: Richard Sullivan, Teacher

Proposal Summary:
This dual experiment will test the effect of PQQ on skeletal muscle cells in microgravity. There will be two FME mini-labs we will be using: one mini-lab will remain on Earth as the control, while the other mini-lab will go up into space. In each mini-lab, there will be only one clamp separating the two volumes. Volume 1 will contain Muscle cells in a culture, which will sustain the muscle cells during the experiment. Volume 2, on the other hand, will contain muscle cells in a culture as well as PQQ in order to test how well it performs in space. The goal of this experiment is to determine a chemical solution to the problem of cellular decay, specifically of muscles, in space.

 

14. Rockland County, New York
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SELECTED FOR FLIGHT:
Lettuce Growth
Grade 5, Cottage Lane Elementary School, South Orangetown Central School District
Co-Principal Investigators: Luke Rabinowitz, Colm Shalvey, and Zachary Visconti
Teacher Facilitator: Mrs. Nadler, Reading Teacher

Proposal Summary:
We will grow a lettuce plant and see how long it takes to germinate on Earth with no light. We will do this because it is dark on the Space Station. We will tell the astronauts to do the same thing we did on Earth but with microgravity. We will compare when it gets back home by looking at both germinations side by side. If it doesn’t take long, maybe astronauts can grow and pick their own food in space. This will help because people don’t have to waste money by sending up food.

HONORABLE MENTION FINALISTS:
Do Glow-Sticks Work in Outer Space?
Grade 12, Tappan Zee High School, South Orangetown Central School District
Co-Principal Investigators: Serena Amos and Paulina Gutkin
Teacher Facilitator: Brian Newburger, Science Team Leader/Teacher

Proposal Summary:
We proposed the subject of glow-sticks functioning in space because of the benefits that would result if they do glow. We will keep two chemicals separated until in space, and when they are mixed, we anticipate a reaction that will cause the stick to glow. Rhodamine B will be the fluorescent dye used, and this will cause the stick to turn bright red. If the lack of gravity prevents the chemicals from mixing, a reaction will not occur and the stick will not glow. The success of this experiment in which the glow sticks will emit light would prove to be very useful for work to be done in space. This is an energy efficient product that would save money and resources should a reaction occur.

Does Copper Tarnish in Saltwater or Distilled Water and Does Low Gravity Have Any Effect on the Results?
Grade 6, South Orangetown Middle School, South Organgetown School District
Co-Principal Investigators: Lucy Barsanti and Emilia Bertoli
Teacher Facilitator: Ms. Arlene Sorensen, Teacher

Proposal Summary:
Our experiment is finding out if microgravity will affect copper tarnishing in saltwater and distilled water. This could be helpful when designing equipment because it can give contractors or inventors a background of what metal to use if they are working with metal and water. For example, if we find that copper tarnishes in salt water but not fresh water and microgravity doesn’t have any effect on it, perhaps a person designing a space shuttle would not worry about copper tarnishing as long as saltwater isn’t in space. Tarnish is known to be a nonconductive metal, so if a copper antenna tarnished when it came in contact with saltwater or distilled water, it would affect the quality of transmissions needed to communicate to Earth. Our information could be useful in many difference applications.

 

15. Guilford County, North Carolina
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SELECTED FOR FLIGHT:
Artificial Ear?
Grade 6-8, Mendenhall Middle school, Guilford County Schools, Greensboro, NC
Co-Principal Investigators: James Galipeau, Praise Idika, and Liam Kennedy
Collaborators: Katrina Afocx, Sarah Deathrage, Favor Idika, Taya Kennedy, Ben Martin, Michael Purdie, Ellie Weeks, and Y Ricki
Teacher Facilitator: Lenny Sue French, MSed, Math/Science educator

Guilford County, North CarolinaProposal Summary:
The purpose of this experiment is to see if the size of Calcium Sulfate crystals grown in space differs from those grown on Earth. The reason we are interested in this is because we learned that jellyfish born in space lacked the ability to sense direction after returning to Earth. We wondered if the same thing would happen to humans born in space. Jellyfish sense direction through crystals grown in follicular pockets (pockets with hair in them) along their rim. We wondered if the reason for the jelly vertigo could be due to larger crystal formation in the pockets.

In the FMEII we will place crystal powder in volume 1 and distilled water in volume 2. Once in microgravity an astronaut will release the clip and gently shake the tube to mix the ingredients and start the crystallization process.

HONORABLE MENTION FINALISTS:
The Growth of Nematodes in MicrogravityGrade 8, Southern Guilford Middle School, Guilford County Schools
Co-Principal Investigators: Sherell Taylor and Lizbeth Gonzalez
Co-Investigators: India Mahatha and Edith Enriquez Amezquita
Teacher Facilitator: Deanna Wynn

Proposal Summary:
In this proposal, we will discover how Caenorhabditis elegans (Nematodes) react to a microgravity environment. Our hypothesis is: “If nematodes are exposed to a microgravity environment, then it will not effect its life cycle or growth”. The materials that we need for this project are: Caenorhabditis elegans live culture, and Nematode growth agar. We will initially count the nematode culture and compare it to the nematode population once it returns to Earth. We will use the Type 2 FME tube for this experiment. Inside Volume 1 of the tube will be the C. elegans and Volume 2 tube will contain the Nematode growth agar. Once the tube arrives to the International Space Station, our team would like for the astronauts to release the clamp on the Type 2 FME tube in order to allow the nematodes and growth agar to mix. Once the contents are mixed on the first day, we would like for the astronauts to not disturb the tube for the remainder of the spaceflight.

Breakdown of Starches in Microgravity Using Amylase.
Grade 8, Northwest Middle School, Guilford County Schools
Co-Principal Investigators: Patrick Abrams and Will Biggs
Co-Investigators: Sean Goldsmith and Connor Young
Teacher Facilitator: James Leddon, Science Teacher

Proposal Summary:
Amylase is an enzyme that catalyzes the breakdown of starch into sugar. Salivary amylase, produced by the salivary glands, targets starch and breaks it down into maltose, which is two glucose or simple sugar molecules bonded together. This process is the first step in creating sugars, which mitochondrion in cells break down, releasing energy for use by the human body. Our question is how microgravity affects the rate at which amylase breaks down starches into
sugars.

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.