Wellsville students prepare to send experiment to space

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WELLSVILLE, N.Y. (WIVB) — Students from Wellsville High School are about to get an international lesson. They’re sending an experiment to the International Space Station. The students won a national competition, and if their experiment works, NASA’s astronauts could stand to benefit. The project is I just one of many great projects organized by WNY STEM.

“I have people talk to me all the time asking about the experiment,” said Wellsville Senior Tyler Watson. “Everyone seems to be really interested about the fact that Wellsville is sending something to the International Space Station.”

Watson, Shannon Nye, Nichelle Dannheim, Brandon Bailey, David Graham, and Trinity Roulo have been working on the experiment all semester. It’s part of the Student Spaceflight Experiments Project. The key to everything: worms. The students will cut up planarian worms before sending them to the space station in a tube. Then, with the help of astronauts, they’ll add Vitamin C to see what effect it has on regeneration.

“We’re basically trying to see if Vitamin C increases how fast these worms regrow when they’re cut and then sent to space,” Watson explained.

After a few weeks in space, the tube will be sent back to earth, and the students will analyze the results.

“We’re hoping that if we do see the Vitamin C show some benefit to the planarian worms, that someday in the future we could see astronauts use Vitamin C to help counteract the effects of long term exposure to microgravity,” said Watson.

Ross Munson teaches the class. He thinks the hands-on experiment will serve the students well in the future.

“The students have gotten so much out of this, as far as collaboration, experimental design, and just working through the process,” said Munson. “They’ve gotten so much more than you’d get through traditional content in a class.”

“It still isn’t quite real to us,” Watson added. “I don’t think it will feel real until we watch the launch.”

That should happen in the next three-to-five months. The students will get to see it. While there is a chance the worms don’t return until after the school year, the students say no matter what, they’ll see this project through.

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