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CU-Boulder space station experiments to involve K-12 students around the globe

A high-flying K-12 education effort by the University of Colorado at Boulder will feature two science investigations launching on a NASA space shuttle this week and continuing on for extended stays aboard the International Space Station.

A payload carrying a seed germination experiment and a second experiment involving eyelash-sized worms will be launched Dec. 7 aboard the space shuttle Discovery from Cape Kennedy, Fla., said Louis Stodieck, director of the BioServe Space Technologies Center. Headquartered in CU-Boulder's aerospace engineering sciences department, BioServe will downlink video, still images and data from the experiments to its educational partners, who will provide the information and accompanying curriculum materials to teachers working with an estimated 1,000 elementary, middle and high school students in the United States and abroad, Stodieck said.

Some classrooms will track the effects of near zero gravity on the germination of radish and alfalfa seeds orbiting Earth on the space station, comparing the effects to seeds bound by Earth's gravity sprouting simultaneously in their own schools, said Stodieck. Other students will focus on a group of nematodes known as C. elegans that will ride on the space station, with students remotely monitoring. population dynamics, physiology, daily movements and even gene activity, including possible genetic mutations caused by space radiation.

"This is an exciting project for BioServe and a great opportunity to engage K-12 students in space research," Stodieck said of the payload, called "CSI" by the BioServe team. "We want to help meet teacher educational objectives, but also conduct meaningful scientific research on gravity-dependent biological processes that support NASA's program for the human exploration of space."

BioServe, a NASA Research Partnership Center, will join forces with two educational partners. The seed experiment involves a program called Adventu
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Contact: Louis Stodieck
stodieck@colorado.edu
303-492-4010
University of Colorado at Boulder
4-Dec-2006


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