Space station to get Johnston, Parker students projects
Four Houston ISD students will send experiments to space aboard the SpaceX Dragon as part of the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program.
Of the 267 formal experiments submitted by Houston students, only two were chosen to join the Dragon on its trip to the International Space Station. The two projects selected to tag along on the 21-day space mission were Johnston Middle School student Emily Soice's proposal, “Hepatocyte Development in Bioscaffolds Infused with TGFB3 in Microgravity” and the Parker Elementary School team of Michael Prince, Maxx Denning and Aaron Stuart's “Will Vitamin C help Preserve Bone Density in Microgravity?”
To prepare their experiments for the mission, the students conferred with experts from Rice University, the National Space Biomedical Research Institute, NASA, Pfizer, the University of Houston, Baylor College of Medicine, Texas A&M University and Texas Southern University, and worked in professional research facilities.
Science teacher Becky Mitchell accompanied the students from Parker when they worked with Dr. Susan Bloomfield and her graduate students at the Texas A&M bone lab to measure and prep samples for the students’ experiment in bone density preservation.
Soice was joined by integrated physics and chemistry teacher Nicole DiLuglio on her visit to the lab of Dr. Navin Varadarajan. Together with graduate student Gabriella Romain, the group worked to remove the cryogenically frozen live pig liver cells necessary for Soice's experiment.
To celebrate, each school held a student contest to design a mission patch. The winning patch for Parker Elementary was designed by fifth-grader Christian Astorga, and eighth-grader Sebastian Beil's design was selected for Johnston Middle School.
In total, 15 student-designed experiments chosen from 12 communities across the U.S. will be aboard the Dragon when it launches from Cape Canaveral to become the first privately-owned spaceship to dock at the International Space Station. Initially scheduled for April 30, the launch was delayed and has been rescheduled to take place at 8:38 a.m. CDT on May 7. For more information on flight details, visit www.nasa.gov/exploration/commercial/cargo/spacex_index.html.
The Student Spaceflight Experiments Program is offered through a partnership between the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education, and NanoRacks, a space utilization company providing space station research platforms. For more information on the program, visit ssep.ncesse.org.
For more information on programs offered within Houston ISD, visit www.houstonisd.org.
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