iLEAD DreamUp to Space: The Great Specimen Collection

On Saturday, February 1, a small group of 5th and 6th graders from SCVi gathered just north of Santa Barbara, California, to collect specimens of a particular kind of sea algae to prepare to send their experiment to the International Space Station (ISS). 

Here’s one learner’s perspective:

Our DreamUp to Space Launch Team is made up of a group of 10- and 11-year-old kids whose experiment idea was selected from the iLEAD DreamUp to Space Mission 2018-2019. Our experiment is scheduled to launch to the International Space Station (ISS) March 2 on Space-X 20 from Cape Canaveral! We hope to find out the effects of microgravity on algae, and we wonder if algae could one day produce oxygen in space. 

It was great being at the beach when we got there, we went straight to work! I loved collecting the algae even though it was kind of slimy (gross but cool) and being at the ocean with friends doing something we like to do!

Solomon Press, 5th Grade, SCVi

Shawna Brown, the lead facilitator guiding this team, noted that the entrance to Arroyo Hondo Beach is actually a sheer cliff, so getting down to the beach was the first challenge for the team. “It was a sketchy trek down, and it showed a lot of adventure and spirit in our kids.” The team found and identified five different species of algae, based on prior research and reference photos. Eventually, the team was able to identify the correct species, Pyropia perforata, which they had selected with expert guidance from Dr. Jeffery R. Hughey, instructor of biology, math, science, and engineering at Hartnell College and Phytotaxa editor for marine macroalgae.

“What I noticed was how quickly the kids moved into science mode,” said Shawna Brown. “They were having fun but taking what we were doing seriously. The experience moved the kids into this science mind-set what we might refer to as thinking like a scientist. Their natural curiosity and interest emerged and grew. They asked questions that built on the research we had already done and made applications and connections about this experiment,” she said, further emphasizing why hands-on experiences out of the classroom inspire young scientists.

By the end of the day, the natural byproduct was this shared experience of science and fun that knit the community of learners, parents, and the facilitator together all in the pursuit of furthering the exploration of space! 

Browse our slideshow below!


News & Information from iLEAD Student Aerospace Projects

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