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Student spaceflight experiment chosen to take flight


By Christie Slocum


A team of sixth graders from Colleton County Middle School are headed to Washington D.C. this summer as their project has been chosen as the winner from their school.  The winning team is Bailey Crosby, Megan Dewitt, Amber Avant, Casey Powell, and Morgan Dandridge.  These five girls have had help from their science teacher Ann Henson and English teacher Carolyn Dalton.  Patti Drawdy, STEM coach for CCMS, first found out the team had won a few weeks ago but was unable to make an official announcement until June 6, 2014.  The team of sixth graders worked tirelessly for the past three weeks having to make modifications to their project so it can be deemed space-ready.  The girls even had to give up participating in field day at the middle school and spend that day in the lab making the necessary modifications to resubmit.  The Flight Experiment team released their notification email to The Colletonian, and it reads:  “Congratulations, the Flight Details Confirmation Form- Flight Safety Review for the Milk in Microgravity experiment has been approved to move forward to NASA Flight Safety Review.  You are now free to formally announce Milk in Microgravity as your community’s flight experiment for Student Spaceflight Experiment Program Mission 6 to the International Space Station.  Please note that the experiment must still pass NASA Flight Safety Review and may require modification before flight can be approved.”  The email went on to thank the team for its hard work and dedication.

Team members are very excited that their project will not only be sent to the International Space Station in the fall, but it is also moving on to the next stage of judging which will happen in Washington, D.C.  In July, the team will travel to Washington D.C. and will present their project “Milk in Microgravity” to a group of national experts at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum.  Each student is allowed to have one parent in the room with them during judging.  The students will explain that the purpose of the experiment is to observe the effect of microgravity on milk spoilage to see whether the lack of gravity will have any more, less or the same amount of spoilage in milk.  Milk spoilage is a fact of life here in Earth’s gravity.  The milk chosen for the experiment is Horizon, ultra-pasteurized, for it’s 99.9% bacteria free which provides for a longer shelf life.

Awards day. Photo by Christie Slocum

Awards day. Photo by Christie Slocum

Ann Henson, science teacher of the winning team, said ,”Since we have started the program, I have had students whom I could not reach become so engaged.  This is a very positive experience for me as a teacher to be able to watch potentially at risk students become so involved in their projects and in science.”  The Colleton County Middle School still needs donations to help send these students to Washington D.C. this summer and to the launch pad when their projects will be sent to the International Space Station in the fall.  For more information on how you can help fund the students’ trips to see their projects fly out of this world, please contact STEM coach Patti Drawdy at 843-782-0040 ext 22041 or by email at pdraedy@colleton.k12.sc.us

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