Open Window School Student Experiment to Fly to the International Space Station
This fall students at Open Window School have their heads in the clouds, actually far above the clouds. They are working in teams on proposals for microgravity experiments to be conducted by astronauts 250 miles above sea level on the International Space Station (ISS). One of these student-designed experiments will be among 22 selected from the United States and Canada to fly on Mission 9 to the ISS in late spring of 2016 as part of the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP). SSEP is undertaken by the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE) in partnership with NanoRacks, LLC.
Students in grades four through eight are engaging in a variety of microgravity learning experiences, including building drop-towers and robotic arms. They will soon break into teams to design research proposals for microgravity experiments in diverse fields such as seed germination, crystal growth, physiology and life cycles of microorganisms, cell biology and growth, food studies, and studies of micro-aquatic life. Each experiment must be designed to work within the constraints of a Fluids Mixing Enclosure (FME) research mini-laboratory and pass a NASA Flight Safety Review.
After the student teams have submitted their formal research proposals, a review team of master STEM educators and local researchers will convene in November to select the top three proposals. These proposals will travel to a national committee, which will select the final experiment for a spring 2016 spaceflight. In addition to the microgravity experiment, Open Window School will send two official mission patches designed by kindergarten through eighth grade students to fly aboard the ISS.
Participation in this esteemed program offers a valuable opportunity for students to engage in real-world learning experiences. Students will visit local science and aerospace museums and research laboratories as well as partner with adult professionals in various scientific fields. In addition, students are gaining critical written communications skills as they engage in an authentic two-step science proposal review process. Open Window School's curriculum reflects a commitment to student-generated inquiry and the connection of classroom activities to sophisticated real world problems and solutions. Participation in SSEP represents the school’s grandest application of this commitment.
Head of School Jeff Stroebel believes that SSEP offers a unique opportunity for Open Window school students: “Participation in SSEP offers our students an experience that they will remember the rest of their lives. Far more than learning science, they will have the opportunity to be scientists, conducting an experiment structured identically to the work of the world’s leading researchers.”
The Student Space Flight Experiments Program (http://ssep.ncesse.org) is undertaken by the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE; http://ncesse.org) in partnership with NanoRacks, LLC.
This on-orbit educational research opportunity is enabled through NanoRacks, LLC, which is working in partnership with NASA under the Space Act Agreement as part of the utilization of the International Space Station as a National Laboratory.