This year in science, we have been given the opportunity to participate in the SSEP (Student Spaceflight Experiments Program) program. Since September in my science 9 class, we have been working on this project. Many classes throughout the district have been working on this project, all hoping to have their experiment flown into space. ( http://www.sd43.bc.ca/Pages/Space.aspx ) We got put into groups, and then brainstormed ideas of what type of experiment we could conduct, that would be a good idea to also conduct in a micro gravitational environment.
So to start off, our brainstorm and our dreams. We had a couple main brainstorming ideas. Bellow are the listed ideas:
Fresh Produce/ could it last/ how long before rot?
Bacteria in space/ Vibrio Cholera/ Good viruses.
Chicken Bones in space/ bones diminish in space and wear down
Stem cell reproduction in space
We had a couple other ideas on the side, but we had narrowed it down to this ideas. We soon discovered though that the fresh produce one would not work, as of limited space on the spacecraft. We also illuminated the chicken bone idea, as we felt that it was not an idea that could win. That narrowed it down to the bacteria in space and the stem cell reproduction. We researched stem cell reproduction in space, as we thought that would be a very interesting experiment. After researching stem cells, we found out that there had been previous studies of stem cells in space. After talking as a group, we decided on the experiment to do with Bacteria.
There were a couple main questions that we studied to start off with. The first was what exactly is micro gravity? Micro gravity is when there is either very little gravity or absolutely none at all. It is an environment without gravity. The second question is what are the control and experimental groups. The control group would be the group to conduct the experiment on earth, and would be able to control all the elements of that experiment.The experimental groups are the people who will observe our experiment in space. When requested they would shake our container and do the basics needed in space.
Our problem/question was: Are harmless viruses able to infect the Vibrio Cholera Bacteria in a micro-gravity setting? We chose this problem for our experiment because we already had a couple basic ideas on bacteria, and we also knew that we could get samples of Vibrio Cholera and the harmless viruses. The bacteria Vibrio Cholera is able to produce diarrhea, dehydration, pain in the abdomen and vomiting. The disease can cause many problems in children if not treated, as well as pregnant women. In some severe cases it can even cause fetal death. We thought that a harmless virus, with good bacteria type content, could possibly change the effect of Vibrio Cholera. From researching previous studies, bacteria in space becomes thicker and denser, so by sending it into space we think that it could help scientific and medical research for future projects. If this experiment were to be successful, we could find a healthy way to fight that bacteria using harmless viruses. It would help scientific research, as who knows what other bacteria the good virus could neutralize, and also what other experiments could be done according to the results.
We also did many other things throughout this project to help progress and learn more about what we were doing. To start off we researched different groups that had won in the past, to help give us a better idea of what types of experiments they were looking for, and also so we don’t choose an idea that had been done before. I found this activity helpful because it really made us aware of what a challenge this could be, and also what types of experiments could be important enough to get chosen. We also went to a presentation science day at Heritage Woods Secondary. We spent the afternoon learning information about the actual SSEP project and then went to mini presentations all about different areas in science. Everyone one was there for the same reason; science. Unfortunately there was supposed to be a talk on bacteria, but the man never showed up. We managed to get his email, and contacted him to ask him all the questions we had. He was very helpful and gave us information that would help our project.
This is a video of the heritage woods day.
Our next step was to create our proposal. This was a very challenging task, that took a lot of patience and team work. Over the course of a week, my team and I worked very hard to get our proposal draft finished. There were six main sections on what we had to write about, which in a total our proposal was ten pages. We divided the work up, and all started to write like a crazy person! By the time the district due date for our draft appeared we had finished and were ready for the editing process. Once we got our proposal back, we made all the suggested changes and corrections. As the due date came closer, we had many other teachers read and help us with the final touches. Mrs. Henderson helped with our grammar, and how to insert citations into our document. After that, we had Ms. Durand read through and help with the more scientific problems in our proposal. After three hard days of working we handed in our proposal, with the highest of hopes for our project. I have added a copy of our proposal to give you an idea of what we had to work on: ssep-final-proposal . In the end, out of about 280 proposals, we made top 30. We were very proud of our work and are also very content on how far we got.
As a conclusion, I thoroughly enjoyed this project, and I learned about real science, and how science affects our daily lives. The process of this project for the most part went smoothly, and we were always organized and on time. We all worked extremely hard in all the different aspects. I think that the overall process went well. The parts that worked best were how organized we were, and that we were always on time and met the due dates. With all our hard work, our final product was very professional, and gave us skills to help us in further projects where we have to write a proposal. Something that wasn’t as successful was our team work. There were definitely certain times where our ideas clashed and we didn’t get along, but in the end it all pulled together and worked out fine.
I am so grateful to have gotten this opportunity and would love to continue doing projects to do with real science.