Filipino, other Santa Monica High School students send experiments into space

Tuesday, October 9th, 2012. Filed under: Local News

Note: Young Filipino Student is part of the team that was chosen to send an Experiment to Int’l Space Station carried by the Historic Space X launch Sunday Night. Francis Luke Abastillas, 14 years old of Santa Monica, California who moved here in the U.S. with his parents 6 years ago, is part of a few selected young scientists that will send experiments to space thru the Historic Space X Launch to International Space Station. 

Falcon 9 and Dragon Liftoff: Liftoff of Falcon 9 and Dragon from Launch Complex 40 in Cape Canaveral, Fl. October 7, 2012. With it are experiments from students, including one from Santa Monica High School with a Filipino-American group member Credit: SpaceX

A microgravity experiment designed by students from Lincoln Middle School and Santa Monica High School has been chosen as a real research mini-laboratory scheduled to fly on the International Space Station, including a 14-year-old Filipino-American.

These students participated in a local Flight Experiment Design Competition that included over 300 competitors and was hosted by the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP), a remarkable U.S. national Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education initiative, that gives students across a community the ability to design and propose real experiments to fly in low-Earth orbit, first aboard the final flights of the Space Shuttle, and then on the International Space Station, America’s newest National Laboratory.

The competing teams submitted formal flight experiment proposals, and a formal proposal review process selected the flight experiment for the community.  A suite of programs leverages the flight experiment design competition to engage the entire community, including a mission patch art and design competition.

The winning team is comprised of Principal Investigator and Santa Monica High School student Cindy Yen, along with collaborators Filipino-American Francis Abastillas, Dean Chien, Matilda Loughmiller, Alex Soohoo, Roman Valentine, and Jane Cho Watts.

Their experiment is entitled, “What Is the Effect of Microgravity on the Formation of Silly Putty and How Do the Characteristics of That Silly Putty Differ from the Silly Putty Made on Earth?”

This experiment, along with ten other SSEP Mission 2 to ISS microgravity experiments, will be carried by SpaceX-1 to the ISS, packaged in a payload box called Antares.  Eleven communities participated in SSEP Mission 2 to ISS; the eleven selected experiments are the culmination of 3,930 students immersed in experiment design, and 1,125 flight experiment proposals received from student teams.

Accompanying the Mission 2 experiments will be twenty-one Mission Patches to capture the community experience in the eleven communities that participated in Mission 2 to ISS; these twenty-one patches were selected from 5,960 submitted across all eleven communities. For more information, go to:

Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP):

SSEP is committed to student ownership in exploration, to science as journey, and to the joys of learning. For school districts, it provides an opportunity to implement a systemic, high caliber, and historic STEM education program.

SSEP is undertaken by the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE) in partnership with NanoRacks LLC. This on-orbit research opportunity is enabled through NanoRacks LLC, which is working in partnership with NASA under a Space Act Agreement as part of the utilization of the International Space Station as a National Laboratory.

SSEP is about immersing and engaging students and their teachers in real science – on the high frontier – so that students are given the chance to be scientists and experience science firsthand.

SELECTED FOR FLIGHT: Santa Monica, California
What Is the Effect of Microgravity on the Formation of Silly Putty and How Do the Characteristics of That Silly Putty Differ from the Silly Putty Made on Earth?
Grade 8, Lincoln Middle School
Principal Investigator: Cindy Yen
Collaborators: Francis Abastillas, Dean Chien, Matilda Loughmiller, Alex Soohoo, Roman Valentine, and Jane Cho Watts
Proposal Summary:
Silly Putty is a mysterious yet entertaining substance; it is a non-Newtonian dilatant fluid, and it can be classified as a solid or liquid. Therefore, we want to propose that an experiment on Silly Putty be done in microgravity. This experiment will test if Silly Putty can be made in microgravity, and if so, how do the characteristics of that Silly Putty compare to the characteristics of the Silly Putty made on Earth. The materials that we are using to make the Silly Putty are sodium borate solution, which is borax mixed with tap water, and Elmer’s glue. We are using a type 2 FME with glue in the main FME volume and sodium borate solution in the long ampoule. When mixed, the product becomes homemade Silly Putty. When the FME gets back to Earth, we will see if Silly Putty was actually made in microgravity. If so, we will continue with our observations and compare the traits of the Silly Putty made on Earth to the traits of the Silly Putty made in microgravity. The traits are molecular structure, viscosity, color, adhesiveness, dissolvability in alcohol, bounce height, and flammability. We hypothesize that Silly Putty will be able to be made in microgravity, but the viscosity and bounce height will be different. The results of this experiment will be recorded and shared with various scientists. We hope that making Silly Putty in microgravity will help the world learn more about this unique non-Newtonian fluid.


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