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Shelton HS Experiment In Space

by Jodie Mozdzer | May 16, 2011 8:58 am

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Posted to: Shelton

Will bacteria become weaker after it spends two weeks in space?

Shelton High School students are closer to finding out, after the Space Shuttle Endeavour launched Monday morning with their science experiment aboard.

Five students from Shelton High School — Omar Sobh, James Szabo, LeAnn Misencik, Kayla Russo and Jason Shnipes — had their science experiment picked to be launched into space as part of the national Student Spaceflight Experiments Program.

Theirs was among 16 projects in the country picked to be aboard the Endeavour on its last mission.

The students hope to study the bacteria after it spends 16 days in space, and see if it is more susceptible to antibiotics. They are comparing the results with a control group of bacteria sitting in dishes back in Shelton.

Story continues after photo gallery.

“I’m expecting them to be weaker,” said student Jason Shnipes. “They are used to being grown down here with gravity. When you take one of the major forces out of the equation, something’s gotta happen.”

Student James Szabo said the project was exciting because it could have re-world applications.

“If we find that the bacteria do have weaker cell walls when they are in space, it could be used for future medicinal purposes,” Szabo said.

When the shuttle lands, the students will get their bacteria samples back, and will treat them with antibiotics.

The experiment is called “Development of Prokaryotic Cell Walls in a Microgravity Environment.”

Launch Party

Monday, the school held a launch party for the group and their families, to watch the shuttle launch live on a projector screen.

The students were in Florida in April to watch the launch, but it was delayed because of a mechanical problem. Student Jessica Olavarria, a student who designed the official emblem for the project, was also with the group in Florida and at the launch party Monday.

At 26 seconds to launch time, one of the students in the group joked “They could still delay it!”

“They’re not delaying it!” school Headmaster Beth Smith responded, laughing.

(Click play on the video to watch the students’ reaction to the launch.)

PHOTO: Jodie Mozdzer

But the shuttle took of as scheduled, and a room full of students, their parents and school staff cheered.

Even though they didn’t get to see it in person, the students said the experience is great anyway.

“We were really anticipating this moment,” said one of the students, Leann Misencik. “Now that it’s here, it’s just beyond what we could have imagined.”

In Florida, the group of students met with other students from around the country and presented their proposal at a conference.

Click here to see their Twitter feed from the trip.

Science department chairman Mary Clark said she was excited for the students.

“It’s a historic event,” Clark said. “To have a project up there with the students is a thrill.”

The shuttle will carry a crew of seven to the International Space Station, including its commander Mark Kelly, husband of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.

Click here for complete coverage from CT Tech Junkie, who was live on the scene at the Kennedy Space Center.

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