SSEP Exposition Night Highlights Effort behind Second Time Springfield Chosen for a Spaceflight Mission

The winning patches Credits: Chip Dickson
The Winning Team Credits: Chip Dickson
The Winning Team showing their experiment Credits: Chip Dickson
The Experiment Credits: Chip Dickson
Supervisors of Science past and present - Thomas Gula and Gregory Salmon Credits: Chip Dickson
The Binef Family: Joe (dad0, Solange (mom), Olivia and Lucas Credits: Chip Dickson
Superintendent Davino Credits: Chip Dickson
Mr. Tim Kielty, Principal, Florence M. Gaudineer Middle School and Dr. Norman Francis, Principal, Jonathan Dayton High School Credits: Chip Dickson
Art Teachers: Kim Noto, Barbara Delikaris, Leonard Gabriel and Gwen Howard Credits: Chip Dickson
David Rennie, Principal, James Caldwell Elementary School and Leonard Gabriel, Art Teacher Credits: Chip Dickson
Some of the experiments on display Credits: Chip Dickson
Experiments and badge designs on display Credits: Chip Dickson

SPRINGFIELD, NJ – Before Memorial Day, Jonathan Dayton High School hosted SSEP Exposition Night.  The night was “…a celebration of the district’s participation in Mission 11 of the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP). 

The district’s participation in Mission 11 was the second time a team of students from the Springfield School System had their experiment selected to fly to the International Space Station.  Springfield is one of only 35 communities that have qualified for more than one mission.  The group chosen was a team of students from Florence M. Gaudineer Middle School. 

The first time a team from the district was chosen was for Mission 9, which was flown to the International Space Station and successfully returned.  Mission 11 is expected to fly later this summer.

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The effort to participate in Mission 11 started in the fall of 2016 and involved students in grades 5 – 12.  A patch design competition is conducted with students in grades K – 12 also during the fall of 2016.  From all the designs submitted the two selected patches as well as school finalists were on display at the exposition.   One of the selected patches was from grades K-5 and the other was from 6-12 designed by senior Destiny Martins.

Participation in the experiment program started with students being split into teams of 3-5 kids a team.  A total of 1,392 students from the district participated in designing a microgravity experiment.   Students were given explicit test requirements for the experiment to make it safe and viable in the space station’s environment.  The students decided on their experiment based on the given criteria and had to develop and present it in a given time frame. 

The teams were on a strict schedule that included a date when their experiment was due.  They were not allowed to be late.  The teams then had to present their experiments.  Those presentations were required to be brief and to the point.  The number of words used was limited.

So, the students were given an opportunity to work in a collaborative effort under time pressures with some help from a teacher facilitator.  Still, they had the responsibility of designing their experiment and developing it in a limited time period. 

There were 225 experiments from the district presented for initial review.  The top 40 were reviewed and then the committee reviewing them selected three to send to SSEP in Maryland.  The experiments were evaluated once again relative to the experiments presented from other schools and 21 student flight team experiments were chosen.   The experiments are described as “Fluids Mixing Enclosure (FME - Mark II) Mini-Laboratories”.

The experiments were formally selected on December 15, 2016.  The launch date from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station was rescheduled to August 1, 2017.   It is expected to be on the International Space Station 4-6 weeks.  The duration can be longer.

The students on the team that designed the experiment will go to the Smithsonian and make a presentation.  In that presentation, they will describe their experiment and its hypothesis.

Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP)

SSEP is a program of the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE) and the Arthur Clarke Institute for Space Program.  The program commenced in 2010. 

From the website (, “Since program inception in June 2010, there have been thirteen SSEP flight opportunities—SSEP on STS-134 and STS-135, which were the final flights of Space Shuttles Endeavour and Atlantis; and SSEP Missions 1 through 11 to ISS. A total of 142 communities have participated in the program, reflecting 37 States and the District of Columbia in the U. S. and 4 Provinces in Canada. Thus far 35 communities have participated in multiple flight opportunities – one community is conducting their 8th flight with Mission 11 – reflecting the sustainable nature of the program.

Through the first thirteen flight opportunities, a total of 74,680 grade 5-16 students across 1,391 schools were fully immersed in microgravity experiment design and proposal writing, 16,261 flight experiment proposals were received from student teams, and 206 experiments were selected for flight. A total of 153 experiments have flown through SSEP Mission 8. Another 53 experiments are expected to launch in 2017: 21 experiments as the Mission 9 Endeavor payload on SpaceX-10, 11 experiments as the Mission 10 Casper payload on SpaceX-11, and 21 experiments as the Mission 11 America payload on SpaceX-12 – all three launching from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL, adjoining Kennedy Space Center. Over 100,000 more students across the entire grade preK-16 pipeline were engaged in their communities’ broader STEAM experience, submitting 65,720 Mission Patch designs.”

The other participating school districts in Mission 11 are Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada; Stonewall, Manitoba, Canada; ILEAD Consortium, CA; North Hollywood, CA; Santa Monica, CA; Vista, CA; Bridgeport, CT; East Hartford, CT; Hillsborough County, FL; University System of Maryland, MD; Fitchburg, MA; Galloway, NJ; Waterford, NJ; Rochester, NY; Concord, NC; Knox County, TN; Burleson, TX; Lewisville, TX; Pharr, TX; and San Antonio, Texas-Southside ISD.

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