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Students Recognized for Historic Microgravity Experiment

Students Recognized for Historic Microgravity Experiment thumbnail181918
At a recent Board of Education meeting, students shared findings resulting from research that was performed on the International Space Station as part of the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program.

District Director of STEM Dr. Amy Myer welcomed the students and staff who took part in the monthslong project that was delayed several times due to COVID-19 and finally launched in December.

Fifth grade teacher Ms. Tara Constant and current Albert G. Prodell Middle School sixth graders Louis Cerniglia, Jefry Ramirez, Christopher Votruba and Alex Zimmerman worked last year on the SSEP program – a real student immersion in space science research and a historic event for the district. Ms. Constant shared a video of the process in which the students mirrored professional researchers with their microgravity research mini-laboratory. Research was conducted by an astronaut on the International Space Station and the laboratory was returned safely to Earth for harvesting and analysis by the student flight team. The team’s question was “Will a mung bean plant take longer to germinate in microgravity than here on Earth?”

SWR High School junior Lauren DeRosso and sixth grader Ben Evans also shared their winning patch ideas and inspirations for their designs. Their artwork entries represented the SSEP Mission 14 to the International Space Station and were among only 50 students whose work was selected from more than 20,800 submitted designs from across the country, Brazil and Canada.

Ben’s design celebrated the mission and the 50th anniversary of the Apollo moon landing. He used colored pencils for his patch that features two rockets with clouds of smoke coming out of the boosters in the shape of a five and a zero. Lauren’s work prominently features the school district’s colors and initialism.

According to Dr. Meyer, the mission patch competition helped to foster districtwide awareness and engagement in the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program and forged interdisciplinary connections between STEM fields and art and design, resulting in a true STEAM initiative.

In addition to Ms. Constant, the school district thanks SWR High School teacher Mr. Kevin Nohejl and Wading River School art teacher Ms. Rose Petruzzellis, and SWR High School art teachers Mr. Jason Andria and Ms. Sam Shepard for continuing to inspire students to learn and create.