Potlatch 6th Grade Experiment is Out of This World

Monday, February 7 2011

MOSCOW, Idaho – Thirty-six Potlatch sixth graders and their teachers, Andrea Bartosz and Gary Lam, spent Monday morning on a conference call with NASA’s Houston Space Center finessing the details of a joint project with NASA through the Kids in Micro-G Experiment Challenge.

Six experiments were chosen out of the 62 proposed to NASA through the Kids in Micro-G Experiment challenge. The students from Potlatch were thrilled to learn they were one of the schools chosen for the challenge. The challenge was open to all schools across the nation and students were asked to design an experiment that could be performed both in the classroom and by astronauts aboard the International Space Station. After much brainstorming, the students chose an experiment, “Pepper Oil Surprise,” which will investigate the interaction of liquid pepper/ oil and water in a plastic bag in microgravity. Retired Potlatch science teacher, Ken Beidler, helped the students conduct the actual experiment under specific guidelines outlined by NASA.

After their classroom experiment results were analyzed, students hypothesized as to what they thought their experiment results would be in microgravity. The sixth graders will now videotape their experiment so that the astronauts can duplicate it aboard the ISS. In return, the astronauts will videotape the experiment as it takes place on the ISS and send it back to the class for them to view. The experiments will be conducted in the March to May timeframe and the students will each be supplied with an individual video copy of their experiment before the end of the school year.

Helping coordinate the project is Renee Lam, an avid volunteer in the Potlatch school district. Renee and Gary Lam both participated in the NASA Idaho Space Grant Consortium’s Summer of Innovation program in the summer of 2010 in Moscow. Following the SOI workshop, the sixth grade teachers have placed a special emphasis on NASA-related areas of focus such as science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Conducting the workshop was Ed Galindo of the University of Idaho. “Dr. Galindo’s enthusiasm and encouragement have been the catalyst moving us forward this year,” commented Gary Lam. “We researched the history of the shuttle Discovery and have followed along waiting for its launch. We designed and launched our own rockets and have now studied in depth about the ISS and the astronauts aboard. The Kids in Micro-G challenge has helped our students understand that with hard work, they are capable of achieving great things.”
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About the NASA Idaho Space Grant Consortium
The NASA Idaho Space Grant Consortium was established in 1991 as part of the NASA National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program. The ISGC comprises 22 institutions including all colleges and universities in the state, science centers and museums, science organizations, state departments, industry representatives, a state park, and a national monument.

Media Contacts: Becky Highfill, ISGC Program Coordinator, (208) 885-4934, bhighfil@uidaho.edu; or Brittany Harding, ISGC Communications Assistant, (208) 885-6030, nasacomm@uidaho.edu; or on the web: http://id.spacegrant.org

About the University of Idaho
The University of Idaho helps students to succeed and become leaders. Its land-grant mission furthers innovative scholarly and creative research to grow Idaho's economy and serve a statewide community. From its main campus in Moscow, Idaho, to 70 research and academic locations statewide, U-Idaho emphasizes real-world application as part of its student experience. U-Idaho combines the strength of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities. It is home to the Vandals. For information, visit www.uidaho.edu.