Media Release for Lumberton ISD Student Spaceflight Experiments Program
Lumberton ISD students have been participating in the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) through the non-profit organization, The National Center for Earth and Space Science Education. This program provided and continues to provide real-world scientific experiences for our students as well as involvement in research aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Over 375 sixth - twelfth grade students participated in the experiment phase of the program. These students researched microgravity, developed experiment ideas, contacted professors who conduct research in the field, and wrote experiment proposals. An outside panel of university professors and science educators reviewed the proposals and selected the top three. In December, a national review board selected the top experiment, which will fly to the ISS this spring/summer as part of a commercial payload, and will be operated by the astronauts. Austin Havard and Lucas Mason’s (attached picture 1st Place Team-Concrete) proposal was selected as one of 34 scientific experiments designed by students from the US, Canada, and Brazil. These two juniors at Lumberton High School researched properties of concrete in microgravity and proposed adding polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) fibers to the concrete to improve the strength and other properties. Dr. Nicholas Brake, Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering at Lamar University is the research mentor for the team. Other finalists included Brian Cassaday, Megan DiGiovanni, Campbell Fuller, and Brent Haley, who wanted to study the development of brine shrimp in microgravity(attached picture Top Three-Shrimp), and Richie DiGiovanni, Tanner Skatrud, and Anthony Tran who proposed studying the interaction between bacteria and E. coli (attached picture Top Three E. Coli). Kellie Schwindeman a senior at Lumberton High School who plans to study chemical engineering, said “I am excited about the opportunity to learn about microgravity and experiments in space!” Lennon Nguyen, a senior who plans to study biomedical engineering stated “This is a great opportunity for our engineering and science students to experience a real-world research project!” The second part of the program, the Mission Patch Design competition involves students in grades K-12 who design and create commemorative patches for our “Mission to Space”. The top two student designs will fly in the ISS, along with the experiment, and then be returned to the students. We are planning a Community Celebration on February 13 to allow our students to share their hard work and learning with other students, parents, and community members. We will recognize the top experiments and announce the winners of the Mission Patch Design competition. The Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) is a program of the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE) in the U.S. and the Arthur C. Clarke Institute for Space Education Internationally. It is enabled through a strategic partnership with DreamUp PBC and NanoRacks, LLC, which are working with NASA under a Space Act Agreement as part of the utilization of the International Space Station as a National Laboratory. Participating in the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program has given our students the opportunity to take their ideas and work to a new level, all the way to the International Space Station!