This year Riverside is participating in the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program. The SSEP is a program where groups of students from different communities make up an experiment to be done in space. According to the SSEP website, the program is a STEM Education Initiative for elementary students to college students to inspire the next generation of North America’s scientists and engineers.
Riverside SSEP students will produce their idea then submit their plan to the SSEP, then the SSEP will pick one experiment that will actually be taken to space.
Only one experiment will be able to go to space; that means Riverside students are competing with 1200 other students from different schools. Each class that is participating is divided into groups of four or five and each group is coming up with an experiment. According to the SSEP information website, an experiment can be run for just a couple of days or to over a month.
“Students are interested in bacteria right now and there was an interest in nanoparticles…We are still in the planning stages and no one has nailed down their project yet,” said Riverside science teacher, Mr. Sean Robinson. Robinson is one of the teachers that is helping coordinate the students in his grade 9 science class with the SSEP.
Alongside Robinson is Ms. Claudia Durand who is also helping coordinate students to participate. She is involving extra students who are in her science fair club. “The experiments that the science fair club students are coming up with are really fascinating,” said Durand. One group came up with a crystal growth experiment and want to know how it will differ in zero-gravity conditions while another group is determining whether or not microgravity has an effect on the intensity of luminescence on bioluminescent bacteria.
Students are looking forward to the experience. “This program has let me get in touch with microbiologists, Dr. Gold (head professor) and Dr. Bingle at UBC. It has allowed me to learn many different things about bioluminescent bacteria that I’ve never knew about before,” said Allison Mangaya, a student that is a part of Durand’s science fair club
“Even if my idea doesn’t get picked, this is still a good opportunity,” said Jayden Bawden, a grade 9 student who is participating in the SSEP.
“It’s a new experience and I’m excited” said Marwa Aziz, a grade 9 student who is also a participant in the SSEP.
The deadline for the proposal of the experiment is November 4, 2016, and as of now the planned launch date to go to space is June 1, 2017. The school is very excited to see what the students come up with.