BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - Berkeley Heights Public Schools and our partners, The National Center for Earth and Space Science ( and NanoRacks LLC. ( is proud to announce the selection of a student designed experiment that will be carried out on the International Space Station next fall. Seventh graders from Columbia Middle School, Julia Ellis, Kasia Kapustka, Gia LaSalle, Bianca Urbina, and Lilyana Walsh, designed an experiment titled, "Baby Bloodsuckers in Outer Space" that was selected from a pool of 152 proposals submitted by Berkeley Heights students as part of the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP).

The students designed an experiment to test the role of gravity in the development of Aedes albopictus mosquito eggs. "We believe the eggs will hatch and mature into larvae even in microgravity. On earth, the larvae float to the surface of the water to breathe and mature into pupae," the students explained.  Astronauts will preserve the mosquitoes shortly after they should have matured into pupae during their six-week stay aboard the International Space Station next fall. The students continued to explain, "without gravity, the larvae will lack a mechanism to rise to the surface and therefore will fail to mature." They will also perform the same experiment on Earth in order to observe the differences between both specimens.

650 students from Columbia Middle School and Governor Livingston High School participated in SSEP Mission, submitting six of the 152 proposals for experiments that could be performed aboard the International Space Station. The program is undertaken by the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE; in partnership with 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.

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All six schools in the district also participated in an art competition in which two mission patches designed by students were chosen to accompany our selected experiment aboard ISS. Out of over 1,000 submitted patches, William Woodruff Elementary School fifth grader Ryan Matthews and Columbia Middle School eighth grader Erin Lee's were chosen as the winning designs that will fly to ISS.

The participation of over 1,600 students grades K-12 in SSEP Mission 6 were made possible through donations made by the following local sponsors:

Summit Medical Group Foundation (

Johnson and Johnson (

The Linde Group (


Berkeley Heights Public Schools PTO (

Berkeley Heights Education Foundation (

For more information, please contact Jim Flakker, SSEP Program Coordinator (