Dr. Darlene Gordon, a middle school science teacher, gave the Eastern Pulaski School Board an update on the Student Space Flight Experiment Program last week.
Gordon said the program is funded out of Washington D.C. and that the middle school students have partnered with students from Crown Point in this program. All of the students are working together, with the two schools competing against each other, to come up with experiments that could be chosen to go up on the International Space Station.
“This is open to fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth grade students and a few other students that we have in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) program,” explained Gordon. “So, we’ve come up with everything from biological to physical experiments.”
She has a group of students working on a biology experiment.
“I have a group of students thinking about the effects of chemicals on the development of frog eggs. We know here on Earth that it can cause birth defects for those frogs. Would the minimal-gravity experience change what we would expect to see?” explained Gordon.
The students also thought of how minimal-gravity would impact the production of rock candy as it’s a crystallized substance.
The middle school is only one of ten schools nationwide to be chosen to be part of this program.
“It took quite a bit of money to do this and we managed to find funding for it to allow our students to have this experience,” Gordon said.
The students are in the design phase of the project right now with the use of Nanokits and Dr. Gordon will be submitting the plans to the national organization May 13. She will be notified by the end of May if the Winamac student’s project has been accepted or if the Crown Point school was selected. That school’s selection will then be sent up to space to be a part of the International Space Station.
“In September it would go down to Houston,” she said. “They’re thinking right now about launching in mid-September and return about mid-November.”
Even if the Winamac students’ experiment is not chosen, a patch will be designed to commemorate this experience.
“We are designing a patch and regardless of whether or not our experiment is selected or not this patch will go up on the International Space Station. It’s my goal for every student who has participated in the program to get them a copy of that patch,” Gordon said.
If anyone would like to donate money toward the production of that patch, contact Gordon at the Winamac Middle School at (574) 946-6525.