Open Window School Alumni Students Prepare Their Experiment for Flight
The clock is counting down as Open Window School alumni scientists Armaan Thomas, Atiwit Miles Chanbai, and Cadence Ching await a once in a lifetime opportunity to watch the launch of the experiment they developed, Effects of Microgravity on Penicillium Chrysogenum’s Ability to Inhibit Cell Wall Synthesis in Staphylococcus Epidermis, to the International Space Station.
The experiment investigates how P. Chrysogenum’s development and ability to create a pseudo-cell wall are impacted by microgravity. They are hoping the results will be useful for creating easier and more sustainable ways to develop antibiotics in space.
The experiment is scheduled to fly as part of the Apollo payload of SSEP Mission 14 to International Space Station on SpaceX CRS-21, projected to launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida this winter. Once aboard the ISS, the experiment will be stowed in the Japanese Experiment Module (JEM; also nicknamed Kibo) on ISS.
The experiments will be conducted by astronauts to the students’ specifications over a period of four to six weeks while the experiment is in flight. Experiment interactions will then be communicated to our students via an online experiment log so our Open Window School students can conduct their Ground Truth (control) experiments here at Open Window on the same timeline.
Over fifty teams of fourth through eighth grade Open Window students worked during the fall of 2019 on proposals for microgravity experiments, which were reviewed in a two-step process. This 2-step proposal review process modeled a real call for research proposals by an organization such as NASA, NSF, or NIH.
The team prepared the experiment for flight this fall, specially designing it to work within the constraints of a Fluids Mixing Enclosure (FME) research mini-laboratory and pass a NASA Flight Safety Review.
In addition to the microgravity experiment, Open Window School will send two official mission patches designed by students Rebecca Wu and Trudy Inagawa on the flight.
Head of School Elaine Christensen explains: "SSEP offers a deeply authentic experience for Open Window school students to be scientists, where they develop an experiment in line with the work of leading researchers from around the world.”
The Student Spaceflight Experiments Program [or 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.