An experiment designed by WNY students goes out of this world

Jun 29, 2018

An experiment created by a team of students from one Western New York School is heading to the International Space Station. They were able to watch video of a launch carrying their work into space while on a trip to Washington, DC Friday morning. It was just one of the local creations included in the early-morning rocket launch.


The students, from Wellsville Secondary School, were in the nation's capital for a conference while watching the launch of a SpaceX CRS-15 rocket that carried their experiment from Cape Canveral, Florida into orbit.

"They're attending a conference at the Air and Space Museum at the Smithsonian," explained Cherie Messore, executive director of WNY STEM Hub. "It's all part of the National Center for Earth and Space Science and Education and Student Spaceflights Experiments Program."

SSEP, which is facilitated locally by WNY STEM Hub, gives teams of students an opportunity to competitvely conceive and design experiments that, if selected, are carried into space to be worked upon by astronauts staffing the International Space Station.

The Wellsville-created project involves earthworms and will test the effects of ascorbic acid, better known by most as Vitamin C, on regeneration in microgravity. After several weeks in space, the worms will be returned to Earth and compared to a similar sample being managed on the ground. 

Also aboard the rocket were original mission patch designs, created by Buffalo students Teah Stevens, an eighth grader at King Urban Life Center and Mohammed Abbadi, who just graduated at the top of his class from Global Concepts Charter High School. 

Messore says the launch is a celebration not only for the Wellsville team but for the entire Western New York Coalition of Schools. This is the 12th mission to be launched through SSEP. Calls for projects to be considered for the 13th mission are already out. Getting the payload into space, Messore noted, costs $25,000. The fee covers insurance, storage and its placement on the rocket. 

Watching their work be delivered to the hands of professionals, Messore said, should serve to inspire students who, one day, may be those people up there.

"They're seeing themselves doing this in the future," she said. "Maybe they're doing it now as a school project but they're also able to project themselves and watch themselves 15 years into the future.

"That's always the beauty of these programs. It lets kids dream and project themselves into a new role."