Education

'Baby Blood Suckers In Outer Space' Chosen For SSEP Launch

1e2dc50e73a4a1346a84_SSEPWinners-1.jpg
Columbia Middle School Seventh Grade Group 'Baby Bloodsuckers In Outer Space' chosen as SSEP Project Winner to be launched in October 2014. Credits: Berkeley Heights School District
778b5848332dcd33da10_nasawinners.jpg
7th Grade Columbia Middle School Group wins SSEP - Julia Ellis, Kasia Kapustka, Gia LaSalle, Bianca Urbina and Lilyana Walsh. Credits: Bobbie Peer
61004a5fc5efb6ad1b97_DSCN7697.JPG
Credits: Bobbie Peer
6170c065ac404517d986_DSCN7684.JPG
e2f8a8dd19978666f545_DSCN7693.JPG
Three finalist winners include: Helium Absorption in Single Walled Carbon Nanotubes; Reactivation and Virulence of Human Papillomavirus Type 16 in Microgravity and Elevated Radiation and the winner Baby Bloodsuckers in Outer Space. Credits: Bobbie Peer
98cfa4a3e4eeec37dee6_DSCN7698.JPG
SSEP Patch Contest Winner Ryan Matthews from Woodruff Elementary School. Credits: Bobbie Peer
fadde5aba746a4a7cc6e_DSCN7689.JPG
Credits: Bobbie Peer
12298a3a516d3a783a9c_DSCN7700.JPG
Credits: Bobbie Peer
b640dc8a1339031b3a11_Columbia_Patch_2.jpg
Patch Winner will be sent with experiment to outer space.  Credits: Berkeley Heights School District
b54278010b880d98270e_Woodruff_Patch.jpg
Patch winner will be sent with experiment to outer space. Credits: Berkeley Heights School District
1e2dc50e73a4a1346a84_SSEPWinners-1.jpg

BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - The Baby Bloodsuckers in Outer Space experiment, developed by a group of seventh grade students from Columbia Middle School as part of the Student Spacelift Experiment Project (SSEP), was chosen by a panel from the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C. to travel to outer space to the International Space Station in October 2014. The students that participated in the winning experiment are Julia Ellis, Kasia Kapustka, Gia LaSalle, Bianca Urbina and Lilyana Walsh.

 “SSEP is about introducing real science to our children and if you give them a chance to be scientists, stand back and be amazed,” stated Dr. Jeff Goldstein, creator of SSEP and NCESSE Center Director in the SSEP website.

Students were asked to investigate a very real scientific problem answering the following question: What physical, chemical, or biological system would I like to explore with gravity seemingly turned off for a period of time, as a means of assessing the role of gravity in that system?

Sign Up for E-News

The district embraced the SSEP and created a myriad of avenues to get the students involved. There were 650 students in grades six through 12 that were fully engaged and participated in 150 group experiments through their science class or within clubs at Governor Livingston High School and Columbia Middle School. 

"They can do this type of work, and they can achieve it," said Jim Flakker, Gov. Livingston science teacher and SSEP Coordinator.  "It is always fun to witness how the students respond to these challenges. You think it will be too difficult and they respond to the challenges," said Flakker.

"I'm really happy that we have a group of all girls. In a field that is underrepresented by women-- to encourage the next generation of girls to grow up with this interest in science and technology, it couldn't be better. I couldn't be more pleased."

"An incredible amount of work has gone into the project. Every time we went to them and asked for a revision, the groups would respond with great ideas and never shut down," said Flakker.  

Pamela Wilczynski the Columbia Middle School SSEP Program Coordinator spoke proudly of the winning group of Columbia students. "They worked every single day with revision after revision," said Wilczynski. "They stepped right up and did it. A group of 12 year old girls -- aspiring scientists.  It promotes science is such a great way, especially among females." 

"The level of sophistication involved in the SSEP speaks to the magnitude and level of education our children receive in the Berkeley Heights school district and their science program," said Michele Soto, whose daughter, Julia Ellis, is a member of the group that worked on the chosen experiment. 

This opportunity was brought to the Berkeley Heights district through the effort of Flakker and Susan Rembetsy, District Science Supervisor from an idea introduced by Board of Education member Doug Reinstein. Funding was made available through sponsorships from businesses and organizations including The Summit Medical Group Foundation, Johnson & Johnson, KPMG, The Linde Group, The Berkeley Heights PTOs and the Berkeley Heights Education Foundation.

The participating groups of students designed their experiments over a 9 week period handing in 9 separate assignments.  "This project had two components: the scientific experiment design process - what is that question that you want to study. On top of that, how do you design an experiment within the confines of what we have to offer?" said Flakker. "The students designed the engineering and the experiment to answer the question they put out there." 

The chosen experiment will be in outer space for six weeks. The astronauts can not collect data and they can not make any observations. The only interaction is their ability to open up a clamp on the tube to mix. The students will be limited to five operation days they can interact with the experiment said Flakker. "So, the experiment had to be designed within these confines." The students will collect the data and analyze the results once it arrives back on Earth and is shipped to Berkeley Heights.   The group will present their results at a national conference at the  Smithsonian. 

A review panel consisting of local scientists, engineers and educators helped to narrow the 150 entries down to six finalists.  The six finalists were sent to the Smithsonian where the three finalists were determined, ultimately choosing Baby Bloodsuckers in Outer Space as the winning experiment.

Last Tuesday evening, the public was invited to view an exhibition of posters from the 150 groups that participated in the SSEP program.  The three finalists provided a presentation prior to the announcement of the winning experiment. The two other finalists are: 

Helium Absorption in Single Walled Carbon Nanotubes by Sarah Cohen, Emily Herring, Ishla Mehrotra, Shree Mehrotra and Zoya To.

Reactivation and Virulence of Human Papillomavirus Type 16 in Microgravity and Elevated Radiation by Amanda Bostwick, Andrew Clark, Alexander Ju, Duylinh Vu and Christopher Weeks.  

"In combination with the experiment contest, we embarked on a mission patch contest to go along with the experiment program," said Rembetsy. "This contest mission was to engage more of the school and local community into the project."

Over 1,000 students from the district participated in the patch design contest that symbolized the community's adventure in STEM education on the high frontier.   A panel chose a list of finalists to be voted on by the community.  The winning patches were designed by Ryan Matthews of William Woodruff School and Erin Lee of Columbia Middle School. The patches will fly aboard the International Space Station as part of the mission. 

"I think the SSEP went really well for a pilot voyage. It was worth every bit of the work because of the reaction of the students," said Rembetsy. "All of the teachers supported it."

Note from the SSEP Website: The Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) was launched in June 2010 by the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE) in strategic partnership with NanoRacks, LLC. Designed as a model U.S. national Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education initiative, the program gives typically 300+ students across a participating community the ability to design and propose real micro gravity experiments to fly in low Earth orbit (experiments conducted in a “weightless” environment), first aboard the final flights of the Space Shuttle, and then on the International Space Station (ISS) – America’s newest National Laboratory. SSEP is suitable for students in pre-college grades 5-12, 2-year community colleges, and 4-year colleges and universities.

 

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Berkeley Heights

Sharing Strength, Giving Back: Become a Volunteer Advocate for Victims of Sexual Violence

April 23, 2018

Openings are still available in the upcoming training series for Volunteer Advocates for victims of sexual violence. The sessions are scheduled twice weekly beginning on Tuesday, May 1 and continuing until Thursday, June 14.

The training is free. No previous experience in counseling is required. Volunteer Advocates work with the professional staff at Union County’s Rape Crisis Center to ...

Free Public Panel Will Explore Sexual Assault and Consent

The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders invites members of the public to attend a panel discussion on sexual assault and consent on Wednesday, April 25 at 2:00 p.m. in Room N-4 at Union County College, 1033 Springfield Avenue in Cranford. The panel will feature a question and answer session.

The panel discussion is intended to raise awareness about sexual assault and consent in ...

Presentation on College Admission and College Readiness At New Providence High School, Tuesday, April 24

New Providence High School will host a special parent presentation, “College Admission Does Not Guarantee College Readiness!” with Dr. Joel Ingersoll, Tuesday, April 24 at 7:00 p.m. in the New Providence High School Auditorium, 35 Pioneer Drive.

Dr. Joel, a NJ Licensed Psychologist and Certified Master Coach, will lead a one-of-a-kind experience, designed to help you maximize ...

Politics IS Government in Union County

April 22, 2018

After Bruce Patrson of Garwood was stopped from speaking at the Union County freeholder meeting of March 22 regarding the politics behind refusing to give the party line to a sitting freeholder I thought this brazen suppression of free speech could not go unanswered. A the the April 19 meeting I answered with these comments.

After ten years of following government in Union County I conclude ...

New Providence Borough Council to Cultivate Relationships with County Officials

April 12, 2018

NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ – Councilman Robert Robinson touted the importance of personal relationships with Union County representatives at the Monday, April 9 council meeting.

Union County Freeholders Angel Estrada and Bette Jane Kowalski attended the Street Smart campaign kick-off event prior to the meeting providing the council members with the opportunity to chat face-to-face with the two ...

Student Led #Rally4 Action to Protest Gun Violence Held Friday in Springfield

April 21, 2018

SPRINGFIELD, NJ - Fueled partially by their disappointment that students were not allowed to leave school for the nationwide student protest last month, student leaders planned a rally Friday on the nineteenth anniversary of the Columbine massacre in Colorado. At 4:30 p.m., students, parents, families, community members met at Chisholm Community Center to register voters, make ...

Student Led #Rally4 Action to Protest Gun Violence Held Friday in Springfield

April 21, 2018

SPRINGFIELD, NJ - Fueled partially by their disappointment that students were not allowed to leave school for the nationwide student protest last month, student leaders planned a rally Friday on the nineteenth anniversary of the Columbine massacre in Colorado. At 4:30 p.m., students, parents, families, community members met at Chisholm Community Center to register voters, make ...

Upcoming Events

Thu, April 26, 7:00 PM

New Providence Memorial Library, New Providence

Outsmart the Scammers

Education Law & Justice

Fri, April 27, 5:30 PM

Brookside Community church, Mendham

Raptor Trust Presentation and Pasta Dinner

Arts & Entertainment Education Food & Drink

Carousel_image_4b4bef174301461e6e3a_81afd120e2a1e04c4169_2015_hotdogs

Fri, April 27, 7:30 PM

MONDO & Summit Area YMCA, Summit

Movie Night at Mondo "Food Evolution"

Food & Drink Health & Wellness

Sat, April 28, 7:00 PM

Crescent Avenue Presbyterian Church, Plainfield

Plainfield Symphony Mahler's 9th Symphony

Arts & Entertainment

Sun, April 29, 1:00 PM

The Monninger Center/The Orangerie at Fairleigh Dickinson University Madison Campus, Madison

Sculpting the Land - Creating Gilded Age Gardens

Education Green Home & Garden