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Hillcrest Students’ Project to Fly on Space Shuttle Endeavour

  • Post category:General News
  • Post last modified:November 30, 2010

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Hillcrest High School students, and their unique science project, are about to become part of space history.

A science project designed by Hillcrest students Keltson Howell, Megan Dolle, and Nikos Liodakis is one of 16 nationwide, and the only one from Utah, selected by the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program to fly on the Space Shuttle Endeavor. The shuttle’s Feb. 27, 2011 launch marks the final scheduled launch of the Space Shuttle program.

The students and their teacher, Jonathan Miller, were congratulated Tuesday in a surprise visit by former U.S. Sen. Jake Garn, R-Utah, who was a payload specialist on Space Shuttle Discovery in 1985, and Canyons School District leaders.

The Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) is a national Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education initiative that provides fifth- through 12th-graders the ability to propose experiments to fly in low Earth orbit.  The SSEP was launched in June 2010 by the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education, a project of the non-profit Tides Center, in partnership with NanoRacks, LLC.  The student experiment flight opportunity is enabled through NanoRacks,  which is working in partnership with NASA under a Space Act Agreement as part of the utilization of the International Space Station as a National Laboratory.

Students from Canyons School District formed teams and worked with community and teacher mentors to submit proposals for the project. Thirteen projects were submitted by students from elementary through high school grades. A Canyons District community committee of faculty, parents, business leaders and university professors selected four projects — two from Hillcrest High and one each from Brighton and Jordan high schools — to submit to the SSEP for consideration.

The finalist projects are:

Brighton High School: Weihsuan Li and Emerson Evans, “The Study of Development of Antibiotic-Resistance in Bacteria in Microgravity.” Teacher: Alexander Hildebrand.

Hillcrest High School: Ryan Baker, Hillary Fair and Andrew Jo, “Investigating the Survival of Bacillus subtilis in Multi-layered Organizations Exposed to Solar Radiation.” Teacher: Jonathan Miller.

Jordan High School: Jack Casdorph and Whitney Peterson, “Microencapsulation of Ampicillin in Polyvinylpyrrolidone.” Teacher: Gretchen Carr.

Hillcrest High School: Keltson Howell, Megan Dolle, and Nikos Liodakis, “Microgravity’s Effects of Morphagens in Common Species.” Teacher: Jonathan Miller.

A Review Committee of scientists in Washington, D.C. selected the Hillcrest High School students’ experiment, “Microgravity’s Effects on Morphagens in Common Species,” to be included in the payload. Fifteen other selected projects were designed by students in Florida, Connecticut, New York, Texas, Washington, Oregon, North Carolina, Nebraska, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Mexico, and Maryland.

More information on the selected projects and the SSEP can be found at

See for a story and video of former U.S. Sen. Jake Garn speaking about the space project.
Click here to read the Salt Lake Tribune’s account of the announcement.  

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