Milton Hershey School Student Experiments Return from Space
After nearly six weeks of testing onboard the International Space Station (ISS), two research projects designed by Milton Hershey School students have returned to Earth. On Wednesday, Sept. 4, three of the four student participants gathered to open the packages, view the materials, and read initial results as provided by the astronauts who conducted the experiments.
“We were anxious and excited for the experiments to come back,” said sophomore Logan Ford. “We just touched something that was on the ISS! It’s incredible.”
His research partner, junior Christian James, added, “I’ve always been interested in this stuff—now I realize what it means to be in this field, even just remotely.”
The MHS student experiments conducted in space were two of 41 projects selected nationwide for Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) Mission 13. The projects tested biology, chemistry, and physics in a microgravity environment. Logan and Christian were seeking to measure the effect of microgravity on algae growth and lipid production. Graduates Aliza Blackburn ’19 and Hunter Shippee ’19 were seeking to explore the effect of microgravity on the adhesion and curing of oil-based artist paint.
Dr. Jaunine Fouché, MHS Director of STEAM and Agricultural & Environmental Education, and Dennis Moore, Senior Division science teacher, assisted the students with meticulously logging receipt of all experiment components. In the coming weeks, the students will ship their space and control group specimens, to specialists at Christie’s Auction House and the University of Florida, to be chemically analyzed. The scientists will examine the composition of the materials microscopically and determine if gravity was a stress factor. Once complete, MHS students will join them via Skype to discuss results and findings.
The students will conclude the project with additional data analysis, yielding a written report of their findings and a presentation at the 2019 or 2020 SSEP National Conference.
“This is an amazing thing,” Logan said. “I come from the tiny little town of Titusville, Pennsylvania. We never thought any of this could happen. To do all of this, it’s incredible.”
The 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 ISS as a National Laboratory.