Student Experiments on International Space Station Opportunity, Inquiries required by May 27th, 2016!

The National Center for Earth and Space Science Education and the Arthur C. Clarke Institute for Space Education announce Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) Mission 11 to the International Space Station (ISS). This STEM education opportunity immerses grade 5-16 students across a community in an authentic, high visibility research experience, where student teams design and propose real microgravity experiments to fly in low Earth orbit aboard ISS. One experiment in each community will be selected to fly. There are currently 25 experiments on ISS – one for each of 25 communities – and reflecting over 10,000 students engaged in Mission 7 to ISS. Launched on SpaceX-8 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL, on April 8, the experiments on Station are currently being operated by astronaut Tim Peake.

THIS IS THE REAL SPACE PROGRAM, and we are truly inviting you to come aboard. Mission 11 is open to school districts serving grades 5-12, informal education organizations, and colleges and universities. Interested communities must inquire about the program no later than May 27, 2016. Note that for pre-college participation, an interested community will typically engage 300 students. For pre-college, this is not a program for a small number of students. The program nurtures ownership in learning, critical thinking, problem solving, navigation of an interdisciplinary landscape, and communication skills­ all reflective of the Next Generation Science Standards, the skills needed by professional scientists and engineers, and the skills desired by 21st century employers. Each participating community will be provided a real microgravity research mini-laboratory capable of supporting a single experiment, and all launch services to fly the experiment to the International Space Station in Spring 2017, and return is safely to Earth for student harvesting and analysis. A 9-week experiment design competition in each community, held September to November 2016, allows student teams to design and formally propose real experiments vying for their community’s reserved mini-lab on Space Station. A formal 2-step proposal review process, mirroring professional review, will determine the community¹s flight experiment. Content resources for teachers and students support foundational instruction on science in microgravity and experimental design. Additional programming leverages the experiment design competition to engage the community, embracing a Learning Community Model for STEM education. This includes a local art and design competition for a Mission Patch to accompany the flight experiment to Station. SSEP is therefore more suitably characterized as a community-wide STEAM experience.

TIME CRITICAL: all interested communities are asked to inquire by May 27, 2016; this allows schools and districts the time they need to assess interest with their staff and, if appropriate, move forward with an Implementation Plan. Communities must be aboard by August 29, 2016, for a 9-week experiment design and proposal writing phase from September 6 to November 4, 2016. The flight experiment will be selected by December 15, 2016. Launch of the Mission 11 to ISS ³America² experiments payload is expected in Spring 2017.

NEXT STEP: carefully read the SSEP Home page, which provides an Executive Summary of the Program and the Mission 11 to ISS Flight Opportunity:

Of interest: SSEP was showcased in Scientific American, February 17, 2015


Dr. Jeff Goldstein, SSEP Program Director and creator; cell


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