Florida elementary school science experiment is heading to space

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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Elementary school students in the Marion County Public School District will share an out-of-this-world experience.

According to a statement from the school district, students in the Space Flight Experiments Program (SSEP) at Dr. NH Jones Elementary School will be able to see their science project blast off aboard a SpaceX rocket later this summer.

The students’ experiment, which will measure the amount of ethanol produced by fermentation in microgravity, will spend between six and eight weeks in orbit before returning to school. Then, students will compare their results to a similar experiment performed on Earth and complete their final analysis.

The idea was selected twice, first by a local review board and then by a national review board where flight experience was ultimately selected to join the spaceflight mission.

The experiment was designed and implemented by students Anakan Keithan Gopalan and Aarya Jaiden Seevaratnam. Their teacher, Lisa Fontaine Dorsey, is the director of the SSEP community project at the school. North Marion High School students Jacob Ridinger and Dalton Gentilman, under their teacher, Dee Reedy, are also part of the experimental team, the district added.

“One of the strengths of the program has been connecting with scientists, researchers and educators across the country and around the world,” Dorsey said. “We not only experienced the scientific method, we LIVED it.”

SSEP is the first pre-college science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education program that is both a U.S. national initiative and implemented as an in-orbit commercial space enterprise.

Dorsey hopes to expand the program next school year.

For updates on the SSEP mission, visit Click here.

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