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LCO 8th Graders microgravity experiment set to fly on International Space Station on Saturday

By Submitted by Tammy Moncel LCO Ojibwe School

A student project from Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe School is scheduled to fly on SpaceX-21 to the International Space Station (ISS) on Saturday, December 5th. The experiment will test how microgravity affects the development of rainbow trout and was designed by 8th graders Evan Heath, Thomas White and Kane LaRonge. The students proposed the project as part of a school (5-12 LCO and Waadookodaading) competition for the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) last fall. The original launch date for the SSEP Mission 14 launch was June.

Two mission patch designs will also fly with the experiment. The designers were Amilia Robertson (grade 5) of LCO and Preston Sullivan (grade 7) of Waadookodaading.

There are a total of 32 communities participating in SSEP Mission 14. LCO / Waadookodaading is the first tribal school to ever participate and only the second school from WI to participate.

At the beginning of this project, no one could anticipate how the world would change. In the midst of a pandemic, wearing masks, the team completed their final mission before launch.

On November 16, the students did a videoconference with Jake from NanoRacks, LLC who helped them load the FME (fluid mixing enclosure) according to their plan and meeting all safety specifications. The experiment needs to be kept at a cool temperature to delay egg development and had to be shipped overnight to Texas. The FME is basically a small tube that the experiment needs to fit into. For this experiment design, the small tube is clamped to make 3 volumes. The first volume contains 5 fish eggs and dechlorinated water. The second volume contains fresh water and the clamp between the chambers will be opened upon arrival to the ISS. The last volume contains formalin (a preservative) which will be opened for release before departing the ISS to preserve the specimens until they are returned to the students. The students have two of the exact same set ups at school to study for a gravity environment comparison.

Troutlodge and Hendrix Genetics have been instrumental in providing trout eggs and guidance throughout the process of experimental design and several preliminary experimental investigations.

The project is facilitated by LCO science teachers Tammy Moncel and Wendy Fuller. This opportunity is made possible because of generous financial supporters including the Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium, Subaru, LCO Youth and Education Fund and the LCO Tribal Governing Board.

The launch is scheduled at 10:39 a.m. CST but further delays are possible. A Google search of SpaceX-21 launch will provide updated information, viewing options and even an opportunity to attend the launch virtually for free!

The Student Spaceflight Experiments Program [or SSEP] 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 DreamUp PBC and NanoRacks LLC, which are working 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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