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Knox County Schools Heading to Space...Again

The Knox County Schools is heading to space again. In January, an experiment designed by students at L&N STEM Academy flew into space aboard the International Space Station (ISS), and just announced is another experiment chosen to go into space this summer.

A team of students from Gresham Middle School have worked since September 2014 to design an experiment through the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program’s (SSEP) Mission 7 to the ISS. Their experiment was chosen through a national review at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum and recently completed the NASA Flight Safety Review. Now, students are refining the experiment for flight configuration before sending it to NanoRacks, LLC in early June for payload integration.

This experiment measures the effects of microgravity on antibiotics. It is expected to be transported to the ISS aboard SpaceX-7 from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on June 19, 2015. This date is subject to change according to NASA’s requirements.

Since September, the students, led by Gresham Middle School faculty advisors, Amelia Brown and Bryan Paschal, have studied authentic scientific research methods, learned about microgravity experimentation and worked to design their own experiment and write authentic research proposals. All experiments must fit within a Fluids Mixing Enclosure (FME), simple mini-laboratory that allow fluids or solids to be mixed in orbit, giving students an understanding of the effects of microgravity on physical, chemical or biological systems. The Gresham Middle School experiment, Effects of Microgravity on the Efficacy of Ciprofloxacin on Escherichia Coli, tests the efficacy on treating the bacteria, E. Coli, which is being used as a model for common bacterial infections that can affect astronauts on the ISS, with Ciprofloxacin, an antibiotic. It will spend 30 days in space, where astronauts will perform the necessary protocols for the student research mission.

“This project is an excellent way to introduce students to the collaborative nature of science as well as the peer-review process that modern science relies upon,” said Brown. “The program is an awesome experience for students to participate in science, math and technology at the professional level, which is a unique opportunity. Students will remember this for a lifetime.”

Gresham Middle School team members are seventh and eighth graders Keagan Cross, Molly Hensley, Haley Hill, Hanson Lam, Katherine Redden and Andrew Starling. The team worked in collaboration with professors and graduate students from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Food Sciences Department; University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Biochemistry Department and Maryville College.
For more information about Mission 7, visit international-space-station-iss/.

SSEP uses a commercial spaceflight payload, which will contain the SSEP student experiments that will be placed aboard ferry vehicles for transfer to the ISS. 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.

The Student Space Flight Experiments Program ( is undertaken by the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE in partnership with NanoRacks, LLC.

This 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.