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Ocean City Science Project to be Tested on International Space Station

A proposal submitted by Ocean City students that analyzes the effects of microgravity on the attachment rate of E. coli bacteria to lettuce cells will be tested by astronauts on the space station this fall.

The Ocean City School District will be sending an experiment designed by their students to be tested aboard the International Space Station this fall.

The Student Spaceflight Experiments Program offered Ocean City students an opportunity to apply their knowledge of science to actual research and expand current understanding of life in space in November.

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station will test the experiment this fall, officials from the school district said Wednesday morning.

The Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) is a national Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education program. The SSEP initiative invites the entire community to help its students develop their scientific knowledge in an authentic setting.

The students of Ocean City High School, Ocean City Intermediate School and Upper Township Middle School worked on mini-laboratories that test their own hypotheses and research.

Throughout the year, student teams researched possible topics of interest, formulated original hypotheses, and developed procedures that could test these hypotheses under the restrictions necessary to be conducted on the International Space Station. 

Students then wrote research proposals explaining their hypotheses and how they intended to test them. 

Of the proposals submitted by Ocean City High School, Ocean City Intermediate School, and Upper Township Middle School, the top three were selected by a panel of judges and submitted for review at the national level.

Topics ranged from blood coagulation, to the survivability of snails, to the attachment rate of bacteria.

The winning proposal, which will be tested on the space station, will analyze the effect of microgravity on the attachment rate of E. coli bacteria to lettuce cells.  

The students who designed this experiment are: Lauren Bowersock, Mercy Griffith, Kristine Redmond, Daniel Loggi, Kaitland Wriggins, and Alison Miles.

Ocean City Primary and Intermediate School art students designed patches illustrating science in space.

Two of those patches will also travel into space with the selected experiment. In addition to the student effort, the teachers, administrators and parents of the community joined to support the students’ research.

The Ocean City PTA donated all proceeds from their Spring Carnival to the cost of launching the experiment. 

Many private donations also helped fund the program.  Teachers at all of the schools advised the student teams, and members of the community helped to advertise, fundraise, and affirm the students’ innovative research.

Ocean City’s participation in the Student Spaceflight Experiment Program has given the community’s young people the opportunity to enter into the greater scientific community by designing and launching a real world experiment.

The SSEP (http://ssep.ncesse.org) is undertaken by the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE; http://ncesse.org) 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.

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