Edmonton

Experiment designed by Edmonton students to be tested on space station

An experiment designed by five Grade 9 girls at David Thomas King School will be tested next spring at the International Space Station.

Edmonton proposal was one of 41 chosen as part of the Student Spacecraft Experiments Program

Grade 9 students pose behind a demonstration of an experiment they designed, which has been chosen to be tested on the International Space Station. (Sheena Rossiter/CBC)

An experiment designed by five Grade 9 girls at David Thomas King School will be tested next spring at the International Space Station.

The proposal was one of 41 chosen as part of the Student Spacecraft Experiments Program. Students from Canada, the United States and Brazil participated.

The Edmonton students found out last week their experiment was headed for the space station.

"We started screaming in pure joy, it was amazing," Thea Endols-Joa said on Tuesday.

Thea Endols-Joa and Deeanne Vergara look on as their peers simulate their experiment, which involves growing watercress in space. (Radio-Canada)

"We're a group of all girls, teenage girls, that just won a huge science competition," Lauren Clement said. "This changes the way girls should be included in these type of things. Because we do have a chance at winning."

The five students designed a project to grow watercress in a microgravity environment, the type of weak gravity that typically occurs in a spacecraft.

Much of their work over the past couple of months has been focused on writing and researching their proposal.

"They had to understand what microgravity was," said math teacher Kelsey Wasylenki, who worked with the students.

"They had to understand the constraints placed on them by the space flight experiment program."

The sky now seems the limit for student Deeanne Vergara, who moved to Canada from the Philippines a decade ago with her family. She hadn't dreamed their school project would be chosen for space.

"No, not really," she said. "It looked really cool. But I didn't see it as something that I could do in the future, until now."

Travis.mcewan@cbc.ca

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