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 Long Beach Sixth Graders Experiment Will Get Launched into Space

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Long Beach Public School District is excited to announce an experiment designed by five of its sixth-grade students has been selected as the official flight experiment to be launched into space as part of the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education’s Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP). Out of 58 proposals written, 41 were submitted to the Step 1 Local Review Board, who chose the top 3 to be adjudicated by the Step 2 National Review Board.

The winning recognition goes to the proposal: “How does Microgravity Affect the Germination of Oyster Mushroom Spawns (Pleurotus ostreatus),” submitted by Frank Depace, Jr., Nathaniel Kaplan, Jackson Spitz, Gregory Seifert, Giuliana Urrego, and their teacher, Regina Dean.

Long Beach Public Schools Director of Science Cristie Tursi said, while Frank, Nathaniel, Gregory, Jackson, and Giuliana showed true dedication, curiosity, and insight, all 6th grade students, teachers, co-teachers, and staff deserve major kudos and accolades for herculean efforts and collaborative contributions! I am very proud of the entire community who volunteered their time and talents to help us with this first phase! Tursi went on to share, “We all are looking forward to learn how the microgravity affects the germination of Oyster Mushroom Spawns and compare the results with the ground experiment performed by all our sixth-grade students.”

The opportunity to submit a proposal was offered to the entire sixth grade at Long Beach Middle School. In addition to the winning group, two other sixth grade teams were among the finalists submitted to the Step 2 National Review Board. Those projects were: “How Does Microgravity Affect Biodegradable Plastics,” and “How does Microgravity Affect the Germination of Baby Lima Bean Seeds?”

Throughout the rest of the year, the SSEP selected team will set up the space experiment to be performed by astronauts, and their classmates will work in teams to perform the control experiment. “This is real science as a verb: engaging, authentic, project-based learning that inspires students to dream big!” Tursi said.

In June 2023, mission patches will be launched to the International Space Station (ISS) along with the science experiment designed by the 6th grade students, and the patches will return to Long Beach with embossed certificates. Onboard the ISS, the patches and experiment will fly at an altitude of 260 miles above Earth’s surface. This is 47 times higher than Mt. Everest and will travel 400,000 miles each day!

In the next phase of the project, Ms. Tursi and the Science Department will collaborate with the Long Beach Director of the Arts and the K-12 Art Departments on the Mission Patch Art and Design Contest. Long Beach Public Schools will be holding two contests: one for students in Grades K-5 and one for students in Grades 6-12.

The Student Spaceflight Experiments Program is a program of the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE) in the U.S. and the Arthur C. Clarke Institute for Space Education Internationally. It is enabled through a strategic partnership with Nanoracks, LLC, which is working with NASA under a Space Act Agreement as part of the utilization of the International Space Station as a National Laboratory.

Date Added: 1/5/2023