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Zachary, Louisiana
A professor in a white lab coat speaks with students

Kenneth Bondioli from the Louisiana State University Reproductive Biology Laboratory instructs the team on how they will culture the murine myoblasts. Image Credit: SSEP

Experiment: What Is the Effect of Microgravity on the Growth Rate of Murine Myoblasts?

The window of science has opened and the rays of knowledge have flooded the city of Zachary, La. The Student Spaceflight Experiments Program, or SSEP, has provided a memorable experience not only for the students of Zachary but also for the entire community.

Students in grades five through 12 took on the challenge of preparing proposals for an experiment to be placed aboard space shuttle Endeavour's STS-134 mission. Teachers Margret Atkinson, Circe Bridges, Jay Call, Cathy Raziano and Lisa Redmon organized opportunities for all interested students to be part of history in the making. Students researched and discussed ideas with experts from across the nation. After weeks of immersion in real science, a winning team was announced.

A professor looks on as a student in an orange flight suit works with lab equipment

Professor John Lynn from the Department of Biological Sciences at Louisiana State University assists the team as they check their samples. Image Credit: SSEP

After the initial shock of winning subsided, fifth-graders Alexis, Grace, Tyler, Jake, Madison and Leanne, led by teacher Circe Bridges, enlisted the help of John Lynn and Kenneth Bondioli from Louisiana State University to aid them in validly conducting their experiment, which will test the development of murine myoblasts. These students continue to learn more about cell biology and are educating the community through multiple presentations.

All students participating in SSEP presented their experiment questions and research at a recent reception and school board meeting. Such a crowd gathered to hear the proposals that spectators lined walls and Zachary police were enlisted to help direct traffic.

Today, Zachary has quite a different perspective on reaching for the stars. For this small community, this is a reality and no longer just a dream.

Circe Bridges: Copper Mill Elementary
David Hitt: NASA Educational Technology Services