Greensboro, N.C. - How long does it take for food to spoil in space?
A team of student scientists from Johnson Street Global Studies is interested in answering that question. If the team finds that mold grows differently in microgravity, its research could help determine what passengers will eat if public space travel ever becomes a reality.
Fourteen students will have the opportunity to study mold growth by placing their experiment on the International Space Station this fall. As a part of the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program, they will be among some of the first researchers to send an experiment to the space station via a commercial spacecraft. Johnson Street is one of 11 student teams from across the country selected to fly an experiment on the first operational flight of the SpaceX Dragon, scheduled for launch in September 2012.
During the spaceflight, the student team will conduct two identical experiments - one on the International Space Station and one in their classroom - to see how gravity effects mold growth. Sixth-graders Evelyn Adriance, Ryan Darden, Zeynab Warrich and seventh-grader Jonathan Mickey, the principal investigators for the experiment, said they expect to find less mold growth in outer space since there is less gravity.
The team's advisors, Alison Manka and Suzanne Bahr, science teachers at Johnson Street, said the students brainstormed ideas and worked on their experiment proposal twice a week for a month.
"I am swelling with pride," said Manka. "This is an incredibly hard thing to do. Our students are seeing what real science is like and will get to create a real experiment. They will do the same things that universities and professional researchers do. Sending an experiment to the International Space Station takes our school's global studies curriculum to a whole new realm."
The Johnson Street experiment was selected from 32 proposals submitted by students from four Guilford County middle schools, including Ferndale Middle, Mendenhall Middle and Northeast Middle.
Guilford County Schools