Chas. Co. School System Participates in Spaceflight Program

LA PLATA, Md. (May 10, 2011) — Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) is sending a student-designed experiment on the last flight of the Space Shuttle Atlantis (STS-135) scheduled to fly on June 28. The experiments are part of a national science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) program called the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP).

In March, teachers and students in grades 5-12 were asked to develop potential experiments and proposals for submission to the program. Students in chemistry and biology classes were initially asked to participate, but the program was also opened to students in all content areas. The Maryland Space Grant Consortium is funding the school system’s participation in this program, which will cover the costs of acquiring experiment space aboard the shuttle. Proposals were reviewed by a panel of educators, scientists and engineers, and three final proposals were selected for staff review to be forwarded to the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE), which is currently overseeing the program.

The review panel for NCESSE will make the final determination on which experiment will fly. The three CCPS finalists – experiments from Henry E. Lackey High School, Milton M. Somers and Piccowaxen middle schools – will present their proposals at the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program Symposium scheduled for 6 -7 p.m., Wednesday, June 1, at Maurice J. McDonough High School.

Another component of the program is the design of a mission patch that will fly aboard the shuttle. The patch design competition was open to students in grades K-12, and all patches are on display in the lobby of the Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building. Voting is open to the public Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and ends Friday, May 13. The winning patch will be announced at the Symposium on June 1.

The experiments will fly aboard NASA’s STS-134 and STS-135 missions, which will dock with the International Space Station. The school system’s participation in this program aligns with STEM-related curriculum, and encourages students in all grades to learn more about opportunities enriched with science and mathematics concepts.

The Student Space Flight Experiments Program (SSEP) is undertaken by the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education, a project of the 501(c) (3) Tides Center, in partnership with NanoRacks, LLC.

This on-orbit educational research opportunity is enabled through NanoRacks LLC, which is working in partnership with NASA under a Space Act Agreement as part of the utilization of the International Space Station as a National Laboratory.

For more information on the SSEP, visit their Web site at

Source: Charles County Public Schools

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