ECISD students send experiment to International Space Station

SSEP Team from STEM academy
SSEP Team from STEM academy(ECISD)
Published: Jan. 6, 2023 at 11:09 AM CST
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ODESSA, Texas (KOSA) - Ector County ISD announced Friday that a team of five students from the STEM Academy campus will be sending an experiment to the International Space Station (ISS) this upcoming summer.

This is part of Mission 17 of the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP). SSEP is an international program that has students design experiments that will be carried out by astronauts on the ISS. This will be the fourth experiment from ECISD flown to the ISS as part of the SSEP program.

The winning student team, coached by their teacher Karey Grametbaur, created an experiment to test whether a specific fungus, Pestalotiopsis microspora, would survive and reproduce in space.

The goal of this was to have the fungus break down waste plastic into biodegradable components. The biodegradable byproduct of this experiment could then be used by astronauts to grow plants in.

The team members from STEM Academy are:

  • Evan Hernandez (10th grade)
  • Bryan Nash (10th grade)
  • Georgi Shoumaroff (11th grade)
  • Evan Boyer (10th grade)
  • Kagan Holder (10th grade)

These students will continue to work on their experiment this spring, with mentoring from their teacher and two faculty members from the University of Texas Permian Basin Biology department, before it rockets to space this summer.

The experiment will spend four to six weeks on the ISS where astronauts will follow instructions provided by the student team to carry out the experiment. The experiment will then be returned to Earth and the students will compare the results between the sample that went to space with an identical sample that stayed on Earth.

Two other teams from ECISD were finalists in the flight experiment competition.