Our Selected Flight Experiment

Mold Reproduction Rate in Microgravity
Grades 6-8, Johnson Street Global Studies

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.

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

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.

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