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Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Local students’ microgravity experiment headed to International Space Station

Students in the Dr. N.H. Jones Elementary School’s ‘Student Spaceflight Experiments Program’ (SSEP) will see their project lift off in a SpaceX rocket later this summer.

The rocket, which will blast off from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, will carry the East SSEP science investigation project to the International Space Station.

According to a Marion County Public Schools media release, SSEP is the first pre-college Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM) education program that is both a U.S. national initiative and implemented as an on-orbit commercial space venture.

Last year during the fall, students were invited by the SSEP to write competitive research proposals to test the effect of microgravity. Each proposal was vetted by a two-step review board.

Students at Dr. N.H. Jones Elementary, Howard Middle, Horizon Academy at Marion Oaks, and Reddick-Collier Elementary worked in groups to develop their experiments and present their proposals to the local review board. That board selected the top three proposals which were then sent to an SSEP review board.

The SSEP review board chose the experiment that was designed and implemented by two Dr. N.H. Jones Elementary students: Anakan Keithan Gopalan and Aarya Jaiden Seevaratnam. Their teacher, Lisa Fontaine Dorsey, is the SSEP community project director at the school.

Local students8217 microgravity experiment headed to International Space Station
Two Dr. N.H. Jones Elementary School students (Anakan Keithan Gopalan and Aarya Jaiden Seevaratnam) helped design and implement the experiment

North Marion High School students Jacob Ridinger and Dalton Gentilman, under the guidance of their teacher, Dee Reedy, are also part of the experiment team.

Local students8217 microgravity experiment headed to International Space Station 1
The experiment team also includes two North Marion High School students (Jacob Ridinger and Dalton Gentilman) under the guidance of their teacher, Dee Reedy

The experiment is titled: ‘What is the effect of microgravity on the amount of ethanol produced by yeast fermentation?’ Under the experiment, the amount of ethanol produced by fermentation under microgravity in a given period of time will be determined.

The experiment will spend at least six to eight weeks in orbit before returning to Dr. N.H. Jones Elementary, and the students will then complete a final analysis. As ‘controls,’ the students will mimic the same procedures in ground experiments alongside the North Marion High students.

Once the space experiment has returned to Earth, it will be sent to the Dr. N.H. Jones Elementary students for comparison with their control samples.

According to MCPS, this is the first time that a Marion County public school has participated in SSEP.

In addition to the science experiment, art students throughout Marion County are working on mission patch designs to accompany the science experiment to the International Space Station. A selection board will review those submissions and select two patch designs for the flight.

Visit the SSEP Mission 16 webpage to track the experiment’s journey to the International Space Station.