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Charles County, Md.
Two students setting up experiment

Lackey students Sam, left, and Kristin, right, set up one of many tests designed to study germination in plants. Image Credit: SSEP

Experiment: Physiological Effects of Microgravity on Germination and Growth of Arabidopsis thaliana

Charles, one of 10 Henry E. Lackey High School students who helped create an experiment to fly in space, said the experience was "amazing" and unlike anything he imagined doing in high school. The experiment was done as part of the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program, which aligns with the school system’s focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, curriculum.

Kristin, another member of Lackey’s team, said the experience was "surreal," and her team was ecstatic to learn their experiment was selected from among 18 proposals to fly aboard space shuttle Atlantis. This past spring, Charles County Public Schools students participated in experiments covering a diverse range of fields including seed germination, crystal growth and physiology. Lackey's experiment involves two tests to compare the structural differences between Arabidopsis thaliana, a small flowering plant, germinated on Earth and the same plant germinated in space.

Three students testing seeds

Lackey students Charles, left, Paul, center, and Kristin, right, work together to test a set of seeds as part of their experiment focusing on seed germination in plants. Image Credit: SSEP

The student team of Courtney, Charles, Kristin, Devon, Christine, Chinyere, Sam, Sydney, Paul and Deborah experimented with growing different strains of the seed. The experiment has excited students at Lackey, and the team is enthusiastic about analyzing the seeds after they return from space. The University of Maryland, Baltimore County donated the seeds. Kristin said this is a great honor for her team and something they never will forget.

Lara North and Romulo Gabriel: Henry E. Lackey High School, Charles County Public Schools
Rebecca Dorfmueller: NASA Educational Technology Services