A group of Wisconsin students took their studies of crystal growth out of this world—to the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory! The crystal growth experiment, developed by the student winners of the 2018 Wisconsin Crystal Growing Competition, recently launched to the ISS on SpaceX’s 17th commercial resupply services mission.
The student researchers traveled to Florida for the launch, and although launch slips prevented some of the students from attending the actual launch, they were able to present their research at Kennedy Space Center and participate in a poster session. The students that had to return home before the launch were able to watch their experiment take flight via the NASA TV livestream of the launch. An overview of the students’ trip, available online, includes a personal account from one of the student researchers.
The students were also excited to have the opportunity to interact via live video with crew members onboard the ISS National Lab while the astronauts conducted their investigation. This allowed the students to answer any questions the crew had about carrying out the experiment.
The Wisconsin Crystal Growing Competition is a free educational program available to Wisconsin students in grades 7 and higher, organized by the University of Wisconsin-Madison Chemistry Department’s Molecular Structure Laboratory. For the contest, students compete to grow the largest, highest-quality crystal on the ground. Winning students then have the opportunity to test their optimized conditions for Earth-based crystallization against crystallization in the microgravity environment of the ISS. The program is part of the Space Station Explorers consortium, a growing community of ISS National Lab partner organizations working to leverage the unique platform of the ISS to provide valuable educational experiences.
Learn more about the Wisconsin Crystal Growing Competition in the Upward spotlight article “Student Contest Winners Fly Crystals to Space” and in the ISS360 article “Taking Crystallization from the Classroom to the Space Station.”