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Annie Fisher STEM Magnet School and University High School of Science and Engineering, Hartford, Conn.
Student looks at a science sample through a microscope

Nick is examining the cells with parathyroid hormone, or PTH, added. Image Credit: SSEP

Experiment: How Does Parathyroid Hormone Affect Changes in Bone Mass in Microgravity?

SSEP Experience Fosters Long Lasting STEM Partnership

Flying an experiment aboard the International Space Station is an amazing opportunity. For our community, the power of the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program has been the development of a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) partnership. SSEP has helped us to create a true K-16 STEM pathway, where elementary, middle and high school students are working with universities and STEM industry to do real-life research.

Below is feedback from our schools' STEM partners.

Question: In what way does the real-life research impact student preparedness for STEM careers?
Research is probably the most important aspect of science education. It is through performing research that students learn to ask questions and how to design experiments. In doing so, (they) can develop the problem-solving and critical thinking skills that are essential in all STEM fields.
-- Dr. Aime Levesque, University of Hartford
Student conducts experiment in a laboratory fume hood

Bo is dividing cells in the laboratory fume hood. Image Credit: SSEP

Question: How is this partnership beneficial both to the students and the STEM industry?
This partnership is beneficial to the students because it introduces them to real-world problems and developing solutions through authentic research and experiments. STEM industry benefits through the development of a pipeline between the students and Hamilton Sundstrand, starting in kindergarten through college and ultimately, we hope, into a career at one of our worldwide companies.
-- Kevin Renfro, Project Engineer at Hamilton Sundstrand
Question: What advice can you give to other STEM mentors from this experience?
My advice would be to treat your students as equals and members of a functioning team. Do not view them as school children, but colleagues that happen to be much younger. I think they are more responsive when treated like equals and can see that their ideas are given serious consideration.
-- Dr. Edwin Thrower, Yale University
Long after the experiment returns to Earth, this partnership between STEM industry, universities and our K-12 students will continue to inspire students to enter the STEM fields.

To read about the other student experiments for Mission 1 to the International Space Station, visit http://www.nasa.gov/audience/foreducators/station-here-we-come.html.

Rachael Manzer, Annie Fisher STEM Magnet School