Shrimp in Space? GSES team wins!

Celebrating the Gum Springs Elementary School team’s selection for the national Student Spaceflight Experiments Program with balloons and smiles are, from left, teachers Amy Tinnell, Stephanie Purvis, and Tammi Gowen, and the fifth-graders who submitted the winning proposal, from left, Audrey Waters, Ella Cobb and Anna Holley.

Celebrating the GSES team’s selection for the national Student Spaceflight Experiments Program with balloons and smiles are, from left, teachers Amy Tinnell, Stephanie Purvis, and Tammi Gowen, and the fifth-graders who submitted the winning proposal, from left, Audrey Waters, Ella Cobb and Anna Holley.

GSES students will send fairy shrimp to the International Space Station this summer

Three fifth-grade girls from Gum Springs Elementary School will send fairy shrimp to hatch onboard the International Space Station, pending successful completion of a NASA Flight Safety Review that will begin in early February.

Ella Cobb, Anna Holley and Audrey Waters’ proposal was selected as one of 34 scientific experiments designed by children from the U.S., Canada and Brazil that will be conducted by astronauts during the experiment’s six-week stay on the ISS, as part of the national Student Spaceflight Experiments Program, or SSEP.

Their experiment, “The Effects of Microgravity on the Hatching Rate of Artemia salina,” seeks information on the effects of weightlessness on the tiny creatures.

The team, their classmates, and their Challenge instructors at GSES, Tammi Gowen and Stephanie Purvis, learned of their selection Dec. 5 in a visit from Deborah Riddleberger, JCSS K-12 science instructional specialist, and Amy Tinnell, the gifted students’ teacher at West Jackson Elementary School.

Gum Springs Elementary School fifth-graders, from left, Anna Holley, Audrey Waters and Ella Cobb react to the surprise announcement earlier this month that their experiment has been chosen for the next mission to the International Space Station.

Gum Springs Elementary School fifth-graders, from left, Anna Holley, Audrey Waters and Ella Cobb react to the surprise announcement earlier this month that their experiment has been chosen for the next mission to the International Space Station.

Tinnell, who brought the opportunity to the attention of Jackson County School System educators — and who dressed in a space suit for the surprise announcement for “the future Drs. Cobb, Holley and Waters” — was selected earlier this year for Space Center Houston’s inaugural Space Exploration Educator Crew. Members of that group of 35 kindergarten-through-12th-grade teachers from across the U.S. were awarded scholarships to attend the center’s annual Space Exploration Educators Conference.

Other JCSS finalists in the SSEP competition were Andrea Segraves, Bella Ledford, Cole Nash and Anna Warren from WJES, who wanted to know if strawberry seeds would germinate in microgravity; and Kasey Eubanks, Kileigh Walker and Selah Wheeler from South Jackson Elementary School, who wanted to determine if tea tree oil would kill E.coli.

The county school system was selected as one of 31 school systems to provide experiments for the SSEP earlier this year, and teachers across the system shared the opportunity with their students, according to Riddleberger.

More than 100 JCSS student teams of fifth- through 12th-graders spent six weeks researching and developing experiment proposals to examine the effects of microgravity aboard the International Space Station.

Riddleberger pointed out that, since gravity affects every biological, chemical, and physical system people encounter each day, the experiments could provide data that would impact the fields of science, engineering, medicine and more.

Proposals from 24 local student teams were judged by a system-level review board made up individuals representing the business, higher education, and science education communities, as well as the community at large. The board selected the top three proposals, which were then evaluated by the National SSEP Step 2 Review Board in Washington, D.C.

SSEP Mission 12 will fly to the International Space Station in early June. The National Center for Earth and Space Science Education, which oversees the program, is a nonprofit organization that works to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers by engaging their natural human impulse to be curious and explore, Riddleberger said.

In late June or early July, the students will have a chance to make presentations on their experiment designs and report preliminary results at the SSEP National Conference at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington.

The Student Spaceflight Experiments Program is a program of the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education 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.

Learn more about the process and the other schools selected at http://bit.ly/JCSS18_1.

JCSS serves more than 7,700 students in pre-K through 12th grade in 10 schools across Jackson County. Follow us online at Facebook.com/JacksonCountySchoolSystem, or on Twitter.com/JCSchoolSystem.