SpaceX’s CRS-7 is set to launch a resupply mission to the International Space Station from Cape Canaveral this Friday.  On board will be educational experiments created by Houston students.

Patrick O'Neill is with CASIS, the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space, which is sponsoring the educational payloads.

“There are four experiments that are going up from two separate Houston area schools,’ says O’Neill.  “One of them is Awty International School and the other is Duchesne Academy.”

The experiments include:

From Awty International School:  

Angela Glidewell’s eighth-grade class will evaluate how cosmic radiation poses a serious threat to humans as they continue to inhabit the ISS. The goal is to investigate the feasibility of using Boron-enhanced high-density polyethylene material for shielding against galactic cosmic radiation and solar particle events.

Jessika Smith’s fifth-grade class is interested in determining whether yeast cells produce more carbon dioxide in microgravity than on Earth. Through this inquiry, the students hope to help engineers optimize life support systems for spacecraft and understand how yeast cells can be grown in space for medical research.

From Duchesne Academy: 

Kathy Duquesney’s eighth-grade class will evaluate the effects of microgravity and light spectral quality (i.e., color of light) on plant growth in a CubeSat. This experiment is important for understanding how plants with high nutritional content can be grown on Earth in closed environments and on the ISS to support future long-duration spaceflight.

Susan Knizner’s fourth-grade students will examine the effect of different wavelengths of light on algae oxygen production in microgravity. Specifically, they will examine how different light wavelengths affect the growth of algae, Chlorella vulgaris, in microgravity. The students will monitor the oxygen released through the process of photosynthesis to determine the optimal color of light for algae growth in microgravity.

O'Neill says it's a pilot program that will hopefully inspire a new generation of space explorers.  “We are very committed to fostering that new era of scientists and engineers.  If you can leverage the Space Station to ignite that fire, then why not take advantage of that,” says O’Neill.