In The Schools

Blast Off: Kent Place Students to Participate in Space Program


SUMMIT, NJ – Kent Place School (KPS) has announed plans to implement the Kent Place Space Program, taking part the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP), a national education program that will engage hundreds of our students in real microgravity-experiment design.

Kent Place School has secured a flight-certified mini-laboratory from the SSEP. The initiative will immerse Kent Place students in scientific research and proposal writing, as the formal calls for proposals process mirrors that of how professional researchers secure limited assets,  exposing students to a crucial aspect of a career in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM).

Students in grades 5-12 will write proposals for experiments to be conducted at the International Space Station (ISS). The young women will work in research teams of three to five to come up with the best experiment to be tested in space.

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Jim Flakker, Chair of the KPS Science Department, coordinated the school’s participation in the program this year, and believes its real-world aspects are invaluable. “This program provides our students with the most realistic scientific work experience I’ve ever come across. This competition mimics the process of scientists responding to a “call for proposals” and provides two very unique educational opportunities.”

Flakker added, “The students must first pose an interesting scientific question regarding the nature of the physical, chemical or biological system. Then, through collaboration, they must engineer an experiment that can answer that question within the stated experiment specifications and operational constraints. We are helping our students develop the skills necessary to become leaders the next generation workforce.”

Review of all proposals culminates when the SSEP National Step 2 Review Board meets at the Smithsonian, in Washington, D.C., to select one flight experiment for each participating community.

All will be part of a commercial spaceflight payload for SSEP Mission 10 to the International Space Station. They will launch on a SpaceX Falcon-9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, and be operated in low Earth orbit by an astronaut. 

The Student Spaceflight Experiments Program is undertaken by the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE) in partnership with NanoRacks, LLC. This on-orbit educational research opportunity is enabled through NanoRacks, which is a private comapny 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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