Forty years ago, the Eagle landed, leading to a giant leap for mankind. This year, the students of Yeshiva Ketana of Long Island have received the opportunity of a century: to design science experiments that will study fluid diffusion, cell biology, and organism’s reactions and characteristics while in microgravity aboard the Atlantis Shuttle. This is it: after years of shuttle flights, this is NASA’s final space shuttle flight—and YKLI will be part of it.
The Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) is the natural next step for our vision of our STEM program, challenging our students in domains that have not been explored, allowing them to “be” scientists, “be” a part of a national mission. There is great attraction in being a part of a much larger and nationally important scientific community where rigor and dedication to the scientific method have resulted in interplanetary research. We see the project’s potential to ignite our science program and unite our learning community. Though the parameters of the project include grades five to eight, indeed, the whole school, all students will be involved with grade-appropriate classroom scientific projects, patch design, and research which would engage and involve everyone in preparation for the launch.
After designing the experiment, and passing a NASA flight safety review, the students will send the experiment to the Kennedy Space Center to be placed on the shuttle. The students and participants will then fly down to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to watch the takeoff. Upon their return to YKLI, they will continually observe their experiment-in-progress in YKLI’s Earth-bound science lab. Prior to landing, the students will return to Florida to observe the landing, receive their project, and take it back to the lab. There, they will record subsequent observations and derive necessary conclusions.
YKLI’s Kindergarten through third grade will be working on a mission patch design for the project; grades four through 8 will design the experiment. Parents and administrators are involved through the parent ideation committee, a parent project assessment committee, and YKLI administration review panels. Local scientists as well are welcome to contact the school to join in preparing the project and preparing for the launch.