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Avicenna Academy Science Community Collaboration, Lake County, Ind.
A man holds a hazardous materials package as two girls stand nearby

Students Jenna and Amalia stand with Dr. Harold Olivey at Indiana University Northwest. Olivey is holding the delivered package that contains the E. coli strain that the girls' project focuses on. Image Credit: SSEP

Experiments: Effect of Microgravity on Reproduction of Curli Producing E. coli O157:H7 438950R and The Effect of Microgravity on the Quality and Nutritional Value of the Seed Sprout of a Germinated 92M72 Genetically-Modified Soy Bean

Avicenna Academy, an Islamic school, joined forces with Highland Christian School and Forest Ridge Academy, an independent institution, to work on Mission 1 to the International Space Station.

To see students of different ethnicities and religions work together on a project that seemed so much bigger than them was a beautiful thing. Instead of focusing on differences, they united to work toward a common goal. The beauty of the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program, or SSEP, is that students are no longer learning about science passively; instead, they are working actively toward discovery. Just as in the professional science world, religion, ethnicity and gender are disregarded and cooperation prevails.

Avicenna Academy Science Community Collaboration, or AASCC, students' parents marveled at the consortium's constituents and the goal of the program as well. Incredulous questions arose, such as, "You mean my son has a chance to send something to space?" Yes, that's exactly what this program means. The take-home message for parents was that anything is possible if you believe in your children and help them believe in themselves. The students, thankfully, did not need to be told that. They already knew that their potential was limitless. SSEP captures the minds of students when they are still fearless and bold. It is helping to grow the love of science among the youth, and the physical constraints of the experiment boost creativity and require "outside-the-box" thinking. And, as today's educators know, creativity is sorely lacking in our classrooms.

The Avicenna Academy Science Community Collaboration would like to thank the Indiana Space Grant Consortium for making Mission 1 to the International Space Station possible for our community.

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.

Amanda Arceo/Avicenna Academy