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Student experiments in running to go aboard space station

Students at Marshall School with experiments passed on to Student Spaceflight Experiments Program Step 2 Review Board include: (from left) McKayla Aanonsen, Rebecca Bilden, Alli Hall, Anna Nordin, Clayton Gunnarson, Grace Maki, Pentti Hanlon, Thomaz Nelson, Charles Young and Erik Shirley.

Submitted by Stephanie Zervas Duluth Children’s Museum vice president of administration, membership and special events Student Spaceflight Experiments Program and the Duluth Children’s Museum worked in tandem with area schools to produce microgravity experiments, which, if chosen, will fly into low Earth orbit and begin testing by astronauts aboard the International Space Station.

Five area schools participated in the SSEP program including Churchill Elementary, Marshall School, Minnehaha Elementary, Lowell Elementary and Myers-Wilkins Elementary afterschool programs. Collectively, the schools devised 37 experiments, of which only three passed the Step 1 review process.

The three teams, all from Marshall School, now move on to the final selection carried out by the SSEP National Step 2 Review Board, which meets at the Smithsonian.

Marshall seniors Allison Hall, Anna Nordin and Pentti Hanlon co-authored an experiment on the detriment of microgravity on xenopus laevis.

Junior Grace Maki’s experiment looks at tardigrades and the effects of anhydrobiosis in microgravity.

Seniors and juniors Clayton Gunnarson, Erik Shirley, McKayla Aanonsen and Rebbeca Bilden’s experiment deals with the effects of microgravity on fruit fly development.

The students engaged in writing proposals against a real proposal guideline with a formal evaluation rubric, a two-step proposal review process; first a formal NASA flight safety review for selected experiments and then an annual research conference at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

SSEP is a remarkable U.S. national science, technology, engineering and mathematics education initiative that gives typically more than 300 students across a community the ability to design and propose real experiments to fly in low Earth orbit.

The Mission 7 launch is scheduled for spring.

SSEP is a real experiment design across all science disciplines (physical, chemical and biological) that provides seamless fusion with technology, engineering and mathematics, and is interdisciplinary with writing, oral communication, art and design. It precisely models the breadth and depth of research by the professional community, including definition of a research program by a research team with principal investigators, co-investigators and collaborators.

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