And the Winner is…

National Review Board selected for flight:

Urokinase Protein Crystal Growth in Microgravity

Co-Principal Investigators: Celeste Brown and Josie Smith
, Jackson Middle School, Grade 7
Teacher Facilitator: Jennifer Kelley

Proposal Summary:
We want to grow urokinase protein crystals for researchers to find out more about treatments for cancers. We are interested in this because we have had relatives die of cancer. Also, a friend of ours named Brittany, who is our age, is dying of brain cancer and only has a few more months to live. It is our hope that something new will be learned from our experiment to help others suffering from cancer.

Congratulations, Celeste and Josie!

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SSEP Competition Finalists

Each student proposal submitted to the competition was read and evaluated by the SSEP PDX Local Review Board. This team was made up of Erik Nilsen (Jackson parent, Lewis & Clark professor, and former NASA employee), Susan Jordan (Director of Grants and Development for Portland Public Schools), Dr. Weislogel (PSU professor and SSEP consultant) and Jennifer Kelley (Jackson teacher and SSEP PDX coordinator). The job of this team was to select the top three experiments! After much discussion and consideration for each proposal the three proposals selected to go to SSEP National Review were:

Mouse Cells in Space

Co-Principal Investigators: Makaila Heifner and Mia Cywinski,
 Grade 6
This experiment looked at the effects of microgravity on embryonic mouse cells. The investigators hoped to insert the cells flown on the shuttle into diabetic mice to see if the cells developed in microgravity had any effect on the diabetes. One of the investigators on this project is diabetic.

Urokinase Protein Crystal Growth in Microgravity

Co-Principal Investigators: Celeste Brown and Josie Smith
, Grade 7
This experiment looked at crystal growth in microgravity. Urokinase was selected because of its association with cancer research. The investigators are friends with a girl who has cancer.

Early Mammalian Development in Microgravity
Principal Investigator: Bethany Woods
, Grade 8
This experiment looked at the development of embryonic mouse cells in microgravity. The researcher planned to study the early development of a mouse in microgravity as compared to on earth as humans look to longer space flights and human reproduction in space.

Congratulations to the JMS Finalists!

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Consulting an Expert

Dr. Mark Weislogel, a professor at PSU who has flown experiments on the International Space Station and space shuttles, agreed to consult with students working on proposals at several after-school work sessions. Though the SSEP MDA is really different than Dr. W’s experiments, he was really helpful in guiding students as they were selecting topics!

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A Starting Place

Students formed teams based around their interests. We looked at the big research categories from the supply list for this. These are the categories: protein crystal growth, inorganic crystal growth, bacterial studies, fish/aquatic life, food product studies, seeds and plants, fluid diffusion, cell biology, and micro-encapsulation.

As a class, we also got a handle on microgravity.

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Choosing the Experiment

Teachers around the building approached SSEP differently. In my 6th grade class each student was involved in a team approach to creating a microgravity experiment proposal. This is the cover of my Science Notebook – it’s covered with ideas from student’s brainstorms about what interested them about microgravity and potential SSEP experiments. The biggest challenge the 6th graders faced was taking their macro ideas and turning them micro. Students had completely do-able ideas, but transforming them to meet the constraints of the Materials List and the size of the MDA (what the experiment actually goes in) was difficult. Take the Moldy Tacos macro concept: Would a taco get all moldy in microgravity at the same rate as it would here on earth? Students could visualize a really small taco, but could they do something with the corn powder and honey from the approved Materials List?

STS 134 Mini Laboratory Operation

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Receiving the News

In mid-July, OSGC’s director, Jack Higginbotham called to tell me that they were going to fund our project! Thanks SO much to Jack, Laura, and everyone at the Oregon Space Grant!

With SSEP funded, I began planning in earnest. During the first few teacher work days back at school, the program was presented to the Jackson staff. Shortly after students began in September, I went around to all the classes and the experiment design competition began!

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Welcome to the JMS SSEP blog!

SSEP at Jackson began shortly after my amazing experience as a Honeywell Educator at Space Academy at the US Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, AL. I learned about the opportunity to put a student’s experiment on the space shuttle from Linda Cox Robinson, a member of my Space Camp Team Destiny. Thanks, Linda! From there I read all I could on the SSEP website, and called Dr. Jeff Goldstein who guided me to the Oregon Space Grant Consortium in Corvallis and reminded me that I had approximately three weeks to secure funding. The OSGC program manager, Laura, was exceedingly nice and encouraging, and asked me to send in a proposal. I thought, “Proposal?!?” I’d never written a proposal. In fact, I’d never applied for a grant before so starting out sending an experiment on the space shuttle was particularly imposing. I was determined however, and simply began to write what I envisioned happening at Jackson in the fall.

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Reloading the Payload and a phone call from ITA…

As the payload was being loaded and prepped to turn over to NASA, I received a call informing us that the volume of well B, the lower well, was going to be reduced by about 20%. Mr. Jones wanted to know if this would seriously impact our science. I ran for the experiment lab notebooks Josie and Celeste have been keeping for guidance. The ground truth experiments up to this point had focused on the proportion of lysozyme to citrate buffer, so we joined the real science world and planned the ground truth trials that would run while the shuttle was in flight accordingly: 98microliters of NaCl solution instead of 125.

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