Pendergast Student Science Experiment Heads to Space this Spring/Summer
A new dawn of discovery is set to take place this spring/summer, as Pendergast District (PESD) students blast their science experiment into space on Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) Mission 17.
SSEP is an international program that engages students in designing experiments that will be carried out
in microgravity by astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS). Three fifth grade students from Desert Mirage Elementary School in the Pendergast District, proposed one of the winning experiments in this year’s SSEP. They were the only group of students selected as winners from the state of Arizona. Their experiment will explore the possibility of growing Desiree Potatoes in space. This will be the first time this species of potato is tested in a microgravity environment. This experiment is significant, as it can pave the way for other types of produce to be explored in microgravity.
The selected student scientists from across the country will be invited to attend the launch of Mission 17
to the International Space Station from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The microgravity
experiment is set to spend four to six weeks in orbit. Once the rocket returns from orbit, students will
compare data from their space bound experiment to their grounded controlled project. Pendergast Superintendent Dr. Jennifer Cruz shares, “We are extremely proud of our student researchers in PESD, as they have shown a tremendous amount of commitment and dedication to this project. This is the first time our district has participated in this program and we are ecstatic to have our students’ experiment selected for this year’s SSEP. We are thrilled to have this group of fifth graders represent our district at the national and global level. The future is bright for our PESD students!”