The Buffalo-Niagara Coalition
WNY STEM & the Student Spaceflights Experiments Program (SSEP)
The Purpose: This is a high-caliber, authentic STEM/STEAM learning program for students in Grades 5-12 to address national strategic needs in workforce development and community engagement in space exploration for the 21st Century designed to inspire the next generation of U.S. scientists & engineers.
The Program: The program is about a commitment to student ownership in exploration, to science as a journey, and to the joys of learning. This is a very real spaceflight research experience, not a simulation. It has been endorsed as a model program carried out with direction from the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE) in 110 communities impacting over 49,000 students.*
Activities: Students work in teams during a 9-week period from September through November 2015 to become part of a scientific community in designing authentic experiments using a micro-gravity lab. Each team writes a flight proposal for their experiment. Three proposals have been selected as finalists along with four honorable mention experiments. By December 17, 2015, one proposal will be selected from the Buffalo Niagara Community to be launched to the International Space Station (ISS) next spring where it will be conducted by an astronaut. The experiment and related data will be returned to Earth for further analysis by students and their local mentor researchers. Students, parents and teachers will have an opportunity to view the launch in person and/or space flight via live feed and participate in a Smithsonian experience to share their learning during July 2016.
In addition, students will design mission patches as is done by astronauts involved in space missions. Students will learn the design process from January to March 2016. Two patches will be selected by a panel of judges from design fields to accompany the experiment to the International Space Station where the patches will be certified and returned to Earth for local display as having been flown to the ISS.
Schools Served: There are 647 students projected to participate during 2015-16 across 10 schools in Grades 5-12 from Buffalo and Niagara Falls. The schools are: Burgard, MST Prep, Hamlin Park, Community School #53, Lydia T. Wright, Buffalo Academy of Science Charter, Global Concepts Charter, NFHS, Abate Elementary, Gaskill Prep.
In-Kind Support: WNY STEM is providing facilitation of the project and the United Way of Buffalo & Erie County is serving as the financial manager for the project.
Donations: Donations continue to be needed for: 1) student workshops, materials and displays with local artists in the mission patch design experience and, 2) visiting museums and centers dedicated to spaceflight. Donations can be made to “UWBEC for SSEP” and mailed to United Way at 742 Delaware Avenue, Buffalo, NY., 14209.
* The Student Spaceflight Experiment Program conducted by the non-profit, NCESSE, is an on-orbit educational research opportunity in partnership with NanoRacks, LLC, , a company that provides space research facilities in cooperation with NASA under a U.S. Space Act Agreement for utilization of the International Space Station as a National Laboratory.