Annie Fisher STEM Students and Teachers Look Forward to Future Launch of Science Project Bound for International Space Station
The winning science experiment, a study of Microgravity’s Effect on the ability of modified yeast to produce insulin, will have to wait for a future cargo rocket before it can be conducted aboard the International Space Station. The unmanned cargo rocket carrying the experiment exploded 2.5 minutes after take-off in Cape Canaveral in Florida on Sunday, June 28th.
Our story from Friday, June 26, 2015:
A science experiment and mission patch designed by students at Hartford’s Annie Fisher STEM Magnet School will be blasting into space on board the Space X CRS-7 commercial rocket that delivers cargo to the International Space Station on Sunday, June 28. Liftoff is set for 10:21 a.m.
Annie Fisher STEM was one of 24 communities nationwide that was chosen to participate in the flight under the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program that was started by the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education.
The winning science experiment, a study of Microgravity’s Effect on the ability of modified yeast to produce insulin, was designed by 8th grade students Quishana Gillett, Alec Bulkovitch, Anxhela Mete, and Nina Hall.
The experiment involves sending a sample of Saccharomyces cerevisiae on board the International Space Station for a month. Saccharomyces cerevisiae is a type of yeast that when genetically modified produces synthetic insulin that helps save the lives of thousands of people diagnosed with Type I and Type II diabetes. The students believe the yeast will produce significantly more synthetic insulin in space than it would on Earth because of the absence of gravity. If there is no change or if there is a significant increase in the production of synthetic insulin, the students may be helping to prove that long-term space travel could be open to diabetics.
Sixth grader Carlene Smith designed the winning mission patch, which contains an image representing diabetes and Annie Fisher STEM. The patch will fly next to the experiment in space.
Two of the student designers, Quishana Gillett and Alec Bulkovitch, will be at the Kennedy Space Center’s Visitor Center with their families to witness the launch. While the yeast remains in space, the other two student designers, Nina Hall and Anxhela Mete, will be on the ground at a University of Hartford laboratory, measuring the production of synthetic insulin on Earth.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that can inspire students to continue their education and seek careers in science, technology, engineering and math,” said the school’s STEM coach Rachael Manzer. “The students are hoping that their research will help in finding a cure for diabetes.”
The project involved a competition in which all 366 students at the school participated in designing mission patches representing STEM education and teams of students in grades 5 through 8 participated in designing science experiments for the voyage.
Officials from the Connecticut Space Grant Consortium, United Technologies Corporation and Webster Bank along with support from SSEP National Partners, CASIS and Subaru of America, Inc., helped sponsor Annie Fisher’s entry into the program.
The Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (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 NanoRacks LLC, working with NASA under a Space Act Agreement as part of the utilization of the International Space Station as a National Laboratory. SSEP is the first pre-college STEM education program that is both a U.S. national initiative and implemented as an on-orbit commercial space venture.