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Two HISD Schools Win Chance to Test Projects in Space

January 12, 2012 @ 10:00 pm

Two HISD student science projects are cleared for lift off. Johnston Middle School and Parker Elementary School students will have their microgravity experiments included in Mission One to the International Space Station through the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program.

More than 1,000 students submitted proposals and 12 U.S. school communities were given the chance to compete. Johnston and Parker students recently learned that they were among a handful of winning schools whose projects will fly aboard a Soyuz rocket in the spring of 2013.

“The students are just ecstatic,” said Parker science teacher Rebecca Mitchell. “It’s a dream come true. They feel like they can do anything, that any dream can be realized.”

Johnston eighth-grader Emily H. Soice led her school’s winning project. Soice’s experiment explores whether a bioscaffold infused with the TGFB3 protein grows and forms cells faster in microgravity than in normal gravity. Bioscaffold is an artificial structure that can be implanted in the body to serve as a base where tissue can grow.

Soice’s research could lay the groundwork for the growth of replacement tissue, joints, and even organs.

At Parker Elementary School, fifth-grade students Maxx Denning, Michael Prince, and Aaron Stuart will test to see if liquid Vitamin C can preserve bone density in microgravity, which could be helpful to astronauts who stay in space over a long period of time.

Mitchell said the students worked after school, during their lunch break, and even on weekends to create their winning proposal. The students will conduct their Vitamin C experiment using a chicken bone.

“We are splitting a wishbone,” Max said. “Part of it will fly in space and part of it will stay here. It will float in a solution that includes Vitamin C for six weeks.”

Researchers, biologists, physicists and many others from institutions including Baylor College of Medicine, NASA, Rice University, University of Houston and Texas Southern University provided support for the project.

For more information, please visit www.ssep.ncesse.org.

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