TEXARKANA, Texas — Three Texas Middle School students were recognized Tuesday for launching the school’s first experiment as part of the Student Spaceflight Experiments program to the International Space Station.
Last year, TMS submitted three experiment proposals to the SSEP, which selected one to launch into space on Mission 16. Only 22 of the best experiment design proposals from around the world had the possibility of being launched to the ISS. Due to complications related to COVID-19, the launch has been postponed until this month.
Of the three proposals submitted by TMS, the work of three sixth-graders – Rivers Glass, Tiffany Bowen and Jaedyn Rios – was selected to launch on the ISS. The project was titled “The Effects of Space Travel and Microgravity on Hybrid Brine Shrimp Eggs”. Marcy Kelly was their science teacher.
“The idea is that they send a tube of eggs to the space station, and we have a tube here. And when we get that one back, they’re going to grow them both and see if they’re in microgravity for an extended period of time affected them in any way before life began,” said TMS program coach Emily Burns.
Burns said the experiment could reveal a better idea of how life forms are affected by being in space, and the students involved are interested in finding out the importance of knowing this and how results could benefit space travel.
Glass called brine shrimp “sea monkeys” when he described his group’s winning proposal.
“We did sea monkeys, and the reason we did that is you can pretty much eat them because they’re like shrimp,” Glass said. “So if you could take them into space and breed the shrimp, they could do that for other types of shrimp to make them bigger, and then breed that type of animal in space like they do with plants to be able to eat on the ISS.”
The SSEP was launched in June 2010 by the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education in strategic partnership with Nanoracks LLC. Designed as a model U.S. national science, technology, engineering, and math education initiative, the program gives students from a participating community the opportunity to design and deliver true microgravity experiences to fly in low earth orbit.
The microgravity experiments design group’s proposals were presented to all science students at TMS, and Burns said they had 142 proposals to choose from. The proposals were selected through a formal two-stage review process by a committee.
Fifty-three of the 142 submitted proposals were submitted for formal Stage 1 review. From these, the committee chose the top three to send for Stage 2 review.
“It was our first year doing this, so it was a learning experience,” Burns said. “And the kids had some great ideas. We just gave them carte blanche with advice from their teachers.”
The other two groups of the top three submitted proposals were also recognized at Tuesday’s event.
TMS’ seventh-year team in the top three consisted of students Emma Kate Taylor, Laney Russ, Mackenzie Wiley and Reese White. Their proposal explored the effects of microgravity on the growth of fragaria and ananassa, otherwise known as sweet fruits like strawberries.
The eighth grade group in the top three consisted of students Lili LeFors, Catie Loomis and Maya Olson. Their presentation was titled “Effects of Microgravity on the Crystallization of Perovskite Solar Cells”.
The winners of the Elementary and Secondary Mission Patch Art Design contest were also announced during Tuesday’s celebration. These students drew and designed mission patches to capture mission objectives, which were also launched into space with the experiments.
Astrid Cabrera was the secondary winner and Jacie Ramsey was the elementary winner.
TMS also announced the first three groups that will submit proposals for the launch of Mission 17 for next year. The experiments of these groups also focus on the effects of microgravity on various elements.
“This is a unique experience for our students,” said Jennifer Sells, high school math and science education coordinator.
As part of Tuesday’s presentation, viewers watched this weekend’s launch.
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