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Science experiments in South Orangetown are out of this world!

Posted on Sep 19, 2013 by in Challenge, Featured

This fall, science students in grades 5-12 at Cottage Lane Elementary, South Orangetown Middle School and Tappan Zee High School can compete for a chance to fly an experiment to the International Space Station as part of the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) offered by the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education. In addition, students in grades K-4 can compete for a chance to fly a mission patch to the International Space Station. One experiment and at least one mission patch will be selected to fly to space.
Starting in mid-September, students will learn about experimental design in science classes, and then have an option to break into teams of two or three students to design research proposals for microgravity experiments. In November, we will hold an in-district competition for grades K-4 to select one or two mission patches and for grades 5-12 to select one experiment proposal from each school (CLE, SOMS, TZHS). These three proposals will be submitted to a national selection committee and one experiment will be chosen to fly to the International Space Station.
The experiment will consist of a “mix stick,” containing up to three separate fluids or solids. Astronauts will activate the experiment in space by breaking the stick to mix the fluids or solids. Students will conduct the same experiment on land (ground truth) in order to compare results in micro versus earthbound gravity. Students will delay their ground truth experiment by 24 hours to ensure communications from the ISS reach the students to verify timing of interactions so that they can copy the exact timing here on Earth.
The entire South Orangetown community is committed to educating our students and providing them with science, technology, engineering, math (STEM), and 21st century skills. These skills have been a focus for our students and are an integral part of the strategic goals for the entire district. This program will help develop our students’ abilities to think critically, problem solve, collaborate, adapt, communicate, and analyze information while fostering curiosity and imagination.
The program is funded through a special legislative grant from Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee, as well as donations from Key Bank, Greater Hudson Bank, Greenman-Pedersen, Inc. and the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space.
The SSEP on-orbit educational research opportunity is enabled through NanoRacks, LLC, which is working in partnership with NASA under a Space Act Agreement as part of the utilization of the International Space Station as a National Laboratory.
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The National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE) oversees SSEP and provides each community a precious but limited research asset - a real, very straightforward to use microgravity research mini-laboratory and guaranteed launch services to get that mini-lab containing a single experiment to the International Space Station where it will be operated by an astronaut, and then returned safely to Earth for harvesting and analysis by the student flight  team. The school community then engages hundreds of students, in teams of 3-5, each proposing how they would use that asset to conduct real microgravity research. Each team designs their own microgravity research experiment making use of the mini-lab, and writes a real but grade level appropriate proposal.

Samples of coverage of this high visibility program by the media: