Last week, students from several iLead Schools had an out-of-this-world opportunity—to take their science experiments from the classroom to space! The students’ experiments, supported by educational company DreamUp, launched on SpaceX’s 20th commercial resupply services (CRS) mission to the International Space Station (ISS). Not only did the students get VIP seats at the launch, each team also had the opportunity to give a presentation about their research at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.
DreamUp is an educational spinoff company from ISS U.S. National Laboratory Implementation Partner Nanoracks that works with student groups to launch student-designed experiments to the ISS. DreamUp partners with several organizations—such as iLead Schools, which has locations in multiple states across the U.S.—to inspire students and spark an interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
One of the DreamUp student experiments that launched on SpaceX CRS-20 was designed by students in grades 6 and 7 from two iLead Schools—iLead Agua Dulce and iLead Lancaster. In this experiment, the students will observe the effects of microgravity on aloe vera seed germination. Aloe vera has many beneficial applications, including wound healing, the prevention and treatment of digestive issues, and air purification. The students will compare the germination of aloe vera on the ISS with germination in ground controls in their classrooms. Learn more about the Agua Dulce team here and the Lancaster team here.
Another DreamUp experiment was designed by students in grades 5 and 6 at iLead’s Santa Clarita Valley International (SCVi) Charter School. In this experiment, the students will study the effects of microgravity on the growth and oxygen production of pyropia perforate, a type of algae commonly called sea lettuce. Students will compare algae grown on the ISS with ground controls and hope to learn whether algae could one day produce oxygen in space for astronauts. Learn more about their project here.
A third DreamUp experiment, designed by students in grades 10 through 12 at iLead’s SCVi Charter School, will examine how mycelium—the part of a fungus that grows in the form of a vegetative fibrous network—grows in space. Mycelium can be made into a material that is both strong and biodegradable. Such a material could be useful for building future space habitats on the Moon or even Mars. The students will test how well mycelium grows in space, evaluating its biomass, volume, and tensile strength. Learn more about their project here.
Read more about the partnership between iLEAD Schools and DreamUp in the Upward perspective from Kathleen Fredette, Director of STEAM Initiatives at iLEAD Schools.