Defining our problem
My group has been working on an experiment for the SSEP experimental space launch. Our group had many ideas for our experiment but the final one we had narrowed it down to was an experiment about bacteria. Our problem we are trying to solve is to see if we are able to kill bacteria in microgravity as easily as it is done on Earth. We came up with this experiment hoping to help the astronauts up in space so they can have better hygiene. My group and I started thinking about how the astronauts live in microgravity. We thought maybe they would feel more comfortable having a product that was able to kill bacteria quickly in space. By killing the bacteria in space we were planing to mix hand sanitizer with rubbing alcohol to kill the bacteria which would be placed on agar. Although our experiment did not get selected to launch up to space, this experiment was fun, hard work and it taught me a lot.
Microgravity is a very weak gravity, it is for orbiting spaceships. An experimental groups is the group that receives the variable, which is the material in the experiment that is always changing. The controlled group in an experiment is the group that does not receive the variable or any research from the experimental group. Since the controlled group does not receive any variables this group is used to be compared agains the other experiments tested.
Discovering research used for the experiment
I was able to bring back a few ideas from Heritage Woods Secondary school. There were a lot of interesting stations at the high school that were not only fun to see but were also helpful towards our experiment. The next day at school I had brought back all of my notes I had taken while being at Heritage Woods and I explained to my other group members what I had learned. We discussed many ideas on what experiment we where going to do, then we finally came up with the thought to do a bacteria lab. Everyone in my group agreed on what we where going to do so we started.
Dreaming of possible ideas for the experiment
One of the very first assignments we had this year was looking in to prevues SSEP wining experiments. My group was doing research on a grade 6 class from Santa Anna,California in 2015. The students hypothesis was “Does microgravity affect the water absorption of Hyaluronic Acid (sodium hyaluronic)?” When astronauts are in space they tend to get very dry and itchy skin, this grade 6 class wanted to create a product that would help cure the dry and itchiness of astronauts so they would be more comfortable in space. In the students research they found that hyaluronic acid heals wounds, soothes burns and makes your skin moist. The reason why the astronauts became so itchy and have dry skin is because the aging process increases while in space. I believe that the grade 6 class won due to their thoughtfulness towards the astronauts needs while in space.
We are trying to solve the problem of killing bacteria in space. We came up with many ideas for our SSEP experiment but decided to go with our original thought on bacteria because we found it was the most interesting one to look into. Other thoughts we had for experiments were “how long will it take for a piece of cheese to mold in microgravity compared to on Earth?” We made this a possible experiment because we were curious to know. The reason why we did not end up doing our experiment on the molding time of cheese is because we figured that it might start to smell and we came up with the killing bacteria experiment instead. Besides the idea of cheese mold time we had came up with many ideas such as plant, fish and animal growth in microgravity. We were also researching whether centipedes would be able to help the soil grow in space compared to how they help the soil grow on Earth. Personally I found this experiment very interesting but we did not end up doing it because we were not sure how we would be able to test the experiment on Earth as well as in space. Members in my group did not show any interest for doing an experiment on centipedes so we decided to see if we would be able to kill bacteria in space as easily as it is done on Earth.
Designing and Delivering our proposal summary
Writing our proposal summary for our SSEP bacterial experiment was a very long process. We started out assigning different parts of the proposal to every person in the group so every one would do an equal amount of work. We quickly realized that we all had different strengths. A few people wrote the summary including myself then I edited the entire proposal because I had the strongest writing skills in the group. I found the proposal summary frustrating to take on because there was a lot of work to do with not many people working on it. To create the best proposal we could I spent lunch hours and my own time correcting all the wording from the paragraphs written. When our proposal summary rough draft was finished all members of the group had re-read the entire proposal so everyone agreed on the final product.
The most important part of the whole SSEP experiment was physically doing it with all of the materials (hand sanitizer, agar with bacteria on it and rubbing alcohol). The first step we did was mix and poor the hand sanitizer with rubbing alcohol into a beaker. Then we dipped a piece of hole punched filter paper confetti in the liquid and finally placed it on the bacteria plate. We did this three times, once with only using hand sanitizer, another with only using rubbing alcohol and the third time using both hand sanitizer and rubbing alcohol. It was very interesting to see the results and know how much bacteria was killed. The end results of this experiment was the mix of both hand sanitizer and rubbing alcohol which killed the most bacteria. Knowing our experiment could potentially be brought up . . … into space made me want to work as hard as I could on this project.
Debrief on how the experiment went
Personally I believe that all members in my group did well with communicating with each other, such as letting each other know if we did not understand a part of the assignment. Whenever we had a question we where not afraid to ask to make sure we had full control and completely new what we where being assessed on. Outside of school I had been connecting with my group members and we had been helping each other out for different sections of the assignment.
Something I wish we had done better was if everyone in the group would have done an equal amount of work. I found that a couple of people in the group hardly participated and did not show an interest in doing the work. When we assigned different parts of the proposal to every person in the group and some people decided not to do the work, it was very frustrating having to do an extra part your teammate was supposed to do, in order to finish the proposal.
For the most part I feel that this experiment went well. I put in a huge effort and worked to the best of my abilities. I know our experiment was not as good as other SSEP experiments but my group tried our best and worked as well as we could with each other.