An experiment designed by a group of 11th graders from the PSJA ISD has been selected to fly to the International Space Station.

The students tell us how their experiment may lead to finding better food sources for astronauts in the future.

The dedication is paying off for this group of juniors from PSJA Thomas Jefferson T-STEM Early College High School. Their experiment is one of four in the entire state that was selected as a finalist for the ‘Student Spaceflight Experiments Program.’ Their project centers around the topic of gravitropism, which is best explained by one of the students.

Kirk Miller, “Here on earth a lot of plants tend to grow downwards because of gravity, and is known as a gravitropistic plant. In space, there really isn’t much gravity or things are changed in a slightly different way, so we want to see in general, how a plant would respond to space conditions if it’s a gravitropistic plant.”

Anna Pineda, “We were brainstorming and felt that gravity was the biggest issue here, so we thought what uses the most gravity? Well, plants of course.”

One of the students says their project may also lead to finding better food sources for astronauts.

Emiliano Nuño, “In a place where there is little to no gravity, the roots pretty much scatter everywhere, and they don’t actually grow in the bases they need. We’re planting one of the Allium species, so we expect it to grow bigger so that would be more of a sustainable food source for the astronauts.”

All five students agree that this experiment will help them in their career, but they also hope other students in the Rio Grande Valley can get interested in science, technology, engineering and math careers.

Kristina Evasco, “This is the start of our growth as individual scientists, engineers, and computer scientists.

Abigail Salazar, “We can only hope that students in the R-G-V can experience what we’re experiencing, because it’s important to everybody, not just us. I think it’s something that everyone can benefit from.

The students’ experiment is expected to be launched to the International Space Station in early June from Cape Canaveral, Florida.