An experiment created in a science classroom at Lansing Middle School soon will be tested in outer space.
Approximately 600 students from sixth through eighth grade are participating in the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) Mission 10 to the International Space Station.
Working mostly in small groups, students are designing experiments to answer the question, "What biological, chemical or physical process would I like to observe with gravity turned off?"
As part of the classwork, students have been learning about micro-gravity, or why astronauts experience weightlessness in space.
The experiments must follow strict constraints. One of those constraints is that the experiment must fit into a very small container called a Fluid Mixing Enclosure.
"It's slightly larger than a slushy straw," said Jennifer Kolb, a science teacher at Lansing Middle School.
Students will be designing experiments until April 22. Experiments then will be submitted to the school's science teachers, who will convene with local experts in the field to review the experiments.
A rubric will be used to determine if the students have met all of the established criteria for the experiment. The panel will determine the top three experiments.
The National Center for Earth and Space Science Education will evaluate the three Lansing Middle School experiments in late May and choose the one that will be taken to the International Space Station.
Finally, the experiment will be conducted by an astronaut onboard the ISS in the fall of 2016.
"SSEP is designed to empower the student as scientist within the real-world context of science," Jeff Goldstein said in a press release. Goldstein is the director of the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education. "SSEP is about introducing real science to our children."
Kolb said Lansing Middle School is the only school in Kansas to be selected for the project this year.
"We have exceptional science teachers," Lansing Middle School Principal Kerry Brungardt said. "Their lessons are hands-on and project-based. They are pros in the classroom."
The students also are participating in a Mission Patch Contest. The winning patch will be selected to accompany the winning experiment to the International Space Station.
"We have emphasized what a great real-world opportunity this is," Kolb said, "and understand the process of being a scientist."
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