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  • Watch Video Clips describing SSEP: Clip 1 (NASA), Clip 2 (NASA)   
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Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) Mission 14 to the International Space Station

Opportunity for Schools to Engage Grade 5-16 Students in the Design of Microgravity Experiments for Flight to the International Space Station

STEM Project-Based Learning Through Immersion in an Authentic Research Experience

For Immediate Release
March 22, 2019

Time Critical: interested districts, schools, colleges, and informal STEM education organizations are directed to inquire no later than April 26, 2019

Contact: Dr. Jeff Goldstein at jeffgoldstein@ncesse.org, or 301-395-0770


SSEP Mission Showcase – Mission 9 to ISS: SpaceX Webcast of the flight of SpaceX CRS-10. The SSEP Mission 9 to ISS Endeavor payload of 21 student experiments launched aboard SpaceX CRS-10 from NASA Kennedy Space Center, FL, 9:38 am ET, February 19, 2017. The experiments returned to Earth for student flight team harvesting and analysis on March 19, 2017. The 21 experiments reflect the culmination of 11,890 grade 5-12 students fully engaged in microgravity experiment design, and 2,466 flight experiment proposals received from student teams across the 21 communities participating in SSEP Mission 9 to ISS across the U.S. and Canada. Mission 9 student research teams presented at the SSEP National Conference 2017, 2018, and 2019, held at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. Mission 9 media coverage includes over 90 articles. Over 12,790 students were engaged in the Mission 9 Mission Patch art and design competitions, resulting in 31 Mission Patches accompanying the Mission 9 flight experiments to ISS. Be part of the adventure on the high frontier – consider participating in Mission 14 to the International Space Station, starting September 2019. 


Washington, D.C. – The National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE) and the Arthur C. Clarke Institute for Space Education announce a new opportunity for school districts across the U.S., Canada, and internationally to participate in the 16th flight opportunity of the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP).

Launched in June 2010, SSEP was designed as a model U.S. National STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education program that immerses typically 300 students across a community in every facet of authentic scientific research of their own design, using a highly captivating spaceflight opportunity on the International Space Station (ISS).

The program is designed to inspire and engage the next generation of scientists and engineers, and is accomplished by providing each participating community their own very real Space Program.

SSEP Mission 14 to ISS will provide each participating community a real research mini-laboratory capable of supporting a single microgravity experiment, and all launch services to fly the mini-lab to ISS in late Spring 2020, and return it safely to Earth for harvesting and analysis. Mirroring how professional research is done, student teams across the community submit research proposals, and go through a formal proposal review process to select the flight experiment. The design competition – from program start, to experiment design, to submission of proposals by student teams – spans 9 weeks from September 3 to November 1, 2019. A curriculum and content resources for teachers and students support foundational instruction on science conducted in microgravity (in a weightless environment) and experiment design. Additional SSEP program elements leverage the experience to engage the entire community, embracing a Learning Community Model for STEM education.

SSEP provides seamless integration across STEM disciplines through an authentic, high visibility research experience—an approach that embraces the Next Generation Science Standards. For school districts—even individual schools—SSEP provides an opportunity to implement a systemic, high caliber STEM education program tailored to community need. More broadly, SSEP is about a commitment to student ownership in exploration, to science as journey, and to the joys of learning.

SSEP is open to U.S. schools and school districts serving grade 5 through 12 students, 2- and 4-year colleges and universities, informal science education organizations, and internationally through the Center’s Arthur C. Clarke Institute for Space Education. SSEP is not designed for an individual class or a small number of students in a community.

Student teams are able to design experiments across diverse fields, including: seed germination, crystal growth, physiology and life cycles of microorganisms, cell biology and growth, food studies, and studies of micro-aquatic life. Experiments require design to the technology and engineering constraints imposed by the mini-laboratory, and flight operations to and from low Earth orbit.

“SSEP is designed to empower the student as scientist, and within the real-world context of science. Student teams design a real experiment, propose for a real flight opportunity, experience a formal proposal review, and go through a NASA flight safety review. They even have their own science conference at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, where they are immersed in their own community of researchers”, said Dr. Jeff Goldstein, creator of SSEP and NCESSE Center Director. “SSEP is about introducing real science to our students and if you give them a chance to be scientists, stand back and be amazed.”

SSEP Mission 14 to ISS includes an experiment design competition September 3 through November 1, 2019. Flight experiments are selected by December 17, 2019, for a ferry flight to ISS in late Spring 2020. All communities interested in participating in Mission 14 to ISS are directed to inquire no later than April 26, 2019.

Heritage: There have been 15 SSEP flight opportunities to date—SSEP on STS-134 and STS-135, the final flights of Space Shuttles Endeavour and Atlantis; and SSEP Missions 1 through 13 to ISS. A total of 178 communities have participated in the program, reflecting 41 States and the District of Columbia in the U. S., 4 Provinces in Canada, and a community in Brazil. Thus far 52 communities have participated in multiple flight opportunities, reflecting the sustainable nature of the program.

Through the first 15 flight opportunities (through Mission 13), a total of 109,950 grade 5-16 students across 2,192 schools were fully immersed in microgravity experiment design and proposal writing, 22,442 flight experiment proposals were received from student teams, and 281 experiments were selected for flight. Through Mission 12, 113,000 students across the entire grade preK-16 pipeline were engaged in their communities’ broader STEAM experience, submitting 99,450 Mission Patch designs.

All 240 experiments selected for flight through Mission 12 have now flown. The Mission 12 experiments returned to Earth on August 3, 2018. Another 41 experiments are expected to launch in Summer 2019 as the Mission 13 Gemini payload of experiments on SpaceX-18, launching from Kennedy Space Center, FL.

SSEP is the first pre-college STEM education program that is both a U.S. national initiative and implemented as an on-orbit commercial space venture. SSEP is a program of the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE) in the U.S. and the Arthur C. Clarke Institute for Space Education internationally. It is enabled through a strategic partnership with DreamUp PBC and NanoRacks LLC, which are working with NASA under a Space Act Agreement as part of the utilization of the International Space Station as a National Laboratory.

The Smithsonian National Air and Space MuseumCenter for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), and Subaru of America, Inc., are U.S. National Partners on the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program. Magellan Aerospace is a Canadian National Partner on the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program.

For information on the Mission 14 to ISS flight opportunity, and to get a detailed understanding of the program, read the SSEP Home Page: http://ssep.ncesse.org

Other Links of Interest:
SSEP Mission 14 to ISS 3-Page Overview (MS Word doc)
Mission 14 Powerpoint for Briefings to Stakeholders (PDF)
2-Page SSEP Overview with Strategic Objectives, used for Congressional Briefings (PDF)
Program Description Video Clips: Clip 1 (NASA)Clip 2 (NASA)
Regarding Caliber of SSEP, read: Scientific American Feature Article

SSEP Participating Communities and Partners
Selected SSEP Flight Experiments

SSEP In the News
Program Impact from Teachers, Students, and Community Leaders
Videoclips of Student Team Oral Presentations, SSEP National Conference, Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum
Showcase of Community-Created Videos, to document the student experience, assist with fundraising, build program awareness

The National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE) creates and oversees national initiatives addressing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education, with a focus on earth and space. Programs are designed to provide an authentic window on science as a human endeavor. Central objectives of the Center’s programs are to help ensure a scientifically literate public and a next generation of U.S. scientists and engineers – both of which are of national importance in an age of high technology. NCESSE is a division of the 501(c)(3) Tides Center. http://ncesse.org

About Arthur C. Clarke Institute for Space Education
The Arthur C. Clarke Institute for Space Education is dedicated to delivering education programs internationally that address our planet, its health, and our ability to venture beyond Earth and understand our place in a greater cosmos. The international arm of the NCESSE in the U.S., the Institute recognizes that all humanity is on a journey aboard spaceship Earth, that the story of our existence knows no national borders, and it should be the birthright for all our children to understand that the explorer lives within them. It is with profound honor and a deep sense of purpose that we continue Sir Arthur C. Clarke’s legacy.  http://clarkeinstitute.org

Media Contact
Dr. Jeff Goldstein, Center Director, NCESSE
301-395-0770 jeffgoldstein@ncesse.org

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