Congratulations to the Grade 12 Biology Class at Wellsville Secondary School!

An original experiment proposal developed by a team of students from Wellsville Secondary School was selected for testing on the International Space Station in this year’s Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP), Mission 12 to the International Space Station. SSEP is a national STEM education initiative of the National Center for Earth and Space Education (NCESSE). The local program was organized by the WNY STEM Hub.

This is the second time a WNY team was successful in the SSEP competition. In 2015, a team of students (nicknamed The Spud Launchers) from Hamlin Park Academy in Buffalo had its experiment launched to the ISS in 2017.

The Wellsville team’s proposal, “The Effect of Ascorbic Acid on Planarian Regeneration in Microgravity,” aims to find evidence of the effects of ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) on planarian regeneration. Vitamin C is essential to the function of the human body.

“This is a true testimony to the outstanding STEM education taught in our region’s schools,” says Michelle Kavanaugh, President of WNY STEM Hub. “Substantial sponsorship from 21 regional businesses, and the commitment of dedicated educators make life-changing programs like this possible for today’s students on their way to becoming tomorrow’s innovators.”

Four seniors at Wellsville Secondary developed the proposal with biology instructor Ross Munson. Munson says, “It’s important for science students to understand the scientific process and experimental design process. This project is a real-world experience. The skills they learned are invaluable and will put them ahead of their science peers.”  The students agree that the SSEP project was unique and special. Tyler Watson says, “We’ve done labs for various sciences, but rarely have we had a chance to actually design and test an experiment of our own,” a comment echoed by teammate Shannon Nye who comments, “It exposed me to things I generally wouldn’t learn in school, and brought us closer together as a class.” Brandon Bailey likes the sense of accomplishment, and David Graham appreciates the team atmosphere where everyone contributed to the proposals completion. Students selected the proposal topic through brainstorming sessions and a final vote to decide on this examination of regeneration.

The Wellsville team is now providing SSEP with flight safety documentation and continuing ground truth experimentation, with guidance from advisors from SUNY Alfred State and Alfred University. The launch will occur sometime in 2018.

The WNY STEM Hub, in collaboration with NCESSE, SSEP Mission 12 organized the WNY Coalition of 13 schools and learning sites in Buffalo, Lockport, Lackawanna, Tonawanda, Niagara Falls, and Olean in addition to Wellsville. This unique STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) program gives students authentic experiences in designing their own experiments using microgravity labs, and writing real world flight proposals. Proposals were reviewed by a local panel of judges and the Wellsville experiment, along with proposals from Olean High School and Lockport High School were submitted to SSEP for review by national judges.

Local honorable mentions go to teams from Harry F. Abate Elementary School in Niagara Falls, King Urban Life Center and Futures Academy in Buffalo, and Olean High School.

The Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) was developed by astrophysicist, Dr. Jeff Goldstein, who founded the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE).  The SSEP is undertaken by NCESSE in the U.S. and the Arthur C. Clarke Institute for Space Education internationally. It is enabled through a strategic partnership with DreamUp PBC NanoRacks, LLC, which work in partnership with NASA under a Space Act Agreement as part of the utilization of the International Space Stations as a National Laboratory. The program originated in 2010 to address national strategic needs in Workforce Development for the 21st Century designed to inspire the next generation of U.S. scientists & engineers.  SSEP has had 13 flight opportunities involving 142 communities in the U.S. and Canada through the first thirteen flight opportunities, 74,680 grade 5-16 students were fully immersed in microgravity experiment design and proposal writing.

Thank you to all the participants in the WNY Coalition:

  • Dr. Charles R. Drew Magnet School, Buffalo
  • Futures Preparatory Academy
  • Research Laboratory Program for Bioinformatics and Life Sciences at Bennett High School
  • Hamlin Park  Claude and Ouida Clapp Academy, Buffalo
  • Southside Elementary School, Buffalo
  • King Urban Life Center, Buffalo
  • Metro CDC Delavan Grider Community Center, Buffalo
  • Global Concepts Charter School, Lackawanna
  • Harry F. Abate Elementary, Niagara Falls
  • Tonawanda Middle School
  • Olean High School
  • Lockport High School
  • Wellsville Middle School

Thank you to our supporters who make this exemplary work possible:

Lead Sponsors

Supporting Sponsors

  • Board of Directors, Staff and Friends of WNY STEM Hub
  • Buffalo Teachers Federation
  • Cannon
  • Center for the Advancement of Science in Space
  • Cornell Space Grant
  • Covanta
  • Cutco
  • Dresser-Rand Company, A Siemens Business
  • Dresser-Rand Challenger Center
  • First Niagara Foundation
  • InfoTech WNY
  • K-Technologies, Inc.
  • Margaret L. Wendt Foundation
  • Olin
  • Siemens
  • STANYS Southwestern Section
  • STANYS Western Section
  • Turner Constructions Company
  • Wendel


SSEP is a program of the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE) in the US and the Arthur C. Clarke Institute for Space Education internationally. It is enabled through a strategic partnership with DreamUp PBC and NanoRacks LLC, which are working with NASA under a Space Act Agreement as part of the utilization of the International Space Station as a National Laboratory.