Three Clay County 4-Hers participated in the first ever 4-H in Space: Mission Command Team project. Noah, Celine, and Aidan worked with Higher Orbits’ “Go For Launch” program and 45 other 4-Hers from Florida, Arizona, Illinois, and Indiana to develop a science experiment that would possibly be flown into space to the International Space Station.
In two and a half days, the 4-Hers worked with their peers in teams of four to design and present a science experiment that could feasibly be flown to the International Space Station. The 4-H teams had to consider the effect of microgravity in their experiment design. Additionally, the teams’ experiment designs needed to fit in a box no larger than a rectangular tissue box and had to function autonomously. Noah, Celine, and Aidan’s teams proposed experiments that looked at the possibilities of composting in space and identifying alternative protein food sources that can be grown in microgravity.Throughout the experience, the students learned various STEM concepts such as how microgravity impacts water and fluids and the challenges and opportunities of space travel. The 4-Hers learned from astronaut Dr. JR Reilly, Michelle Lucas, Higher Orbits Founder & CEO, and John Ramsey, the head of Launch Control Systems with the Jacobs Engineering Inc. Group.
Our 4-Her Aidan shared , “Getting to learn more about the future of space travel from an astronaut was a great part of the trip.” Noah had similar sentiments by sharing, “I loved working as a team and with a real astronaut. It was fun learning about how the rockets work and even seeing an actual rocket launch!”
Outside of working in their teams, the youth toured the Kennedy Space Center and received a personal guided tour about the Atlantis Space Shuttle from astronaut Dr. JR Reilly who flew on the Atlantis for two space shuttle missions. The youth also witnessed the launch of the SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket from Jetty Park in Cape Canaveral.
For Celine, she witnessed her first rocket launch on this trip, but it won’t be her last. Celine’s team, which proposed the experiment “Growing Spirulina in Space,” won the competition and will have their science experiment flown up to the International Space Station tentatively in 2023. As part of being on the winning team, she’ll be invited to watch her team’s science experiment launch into space.
Celine shared , “Winning was unexpected, but not unwelcome. I would love to do something like that again. I can’t wait to see another launch.”
This truly was a once in a lifetime experience for all 48 of the 4-H youth who participated in the 4-H in Space: Mission Command Team project. Our Florida 4-H youth from Clay, Palm Beach, Walton, Osceola, and Lee counties helped welcome their counterparts to Florida with a riverboat dinner cruise, holding baby alligators, and enjoying a summer beach day.
Florida 4-H was a recipient of the National Lab Research award “4-H Multi-State Space Exploration Consortium (4-H MSSEC)” from the International Space Station National Lab, managed by the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), and in collaboration with University of Arizona, University of Illinois, and Purdue University. The award made this experience possible.
As part of the award, each youth had to teach a topic about planetary or lunar science to 20 youth. The Clay in Space youth team will be teaching about stars and constellations and sharing their experience on Friday, July 29th at the Orange Park library as part of Space Science Day with 4-H Clay County event.