COSAM » News » Articles » 2016 » June » COSAM alumnus leads sixth grade team to victory during the first Intrepid International Space Station Challenge

COSAM alumnus leads sixth grade team to victory during the first Intrepid International Space Station Challenge

Published: 06/14/2016

By: Lindsay Miles Penny

Nathan Tubbs (pictured second from left), marine biology ’05, is a middle school teacher in Brooklyn, NY, whose students won the first Intrepid International Space Station Challenge, an experiment design competition created by the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, in partnership with the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) and the Ramon Foundation. Tubbs’ team took first place among the 42 competing teams from five New York City public schools.

The team designed an experiment that explores how microgravity affects the germination of pot mum seeds. The experiment will be sent to the ISS on SSEP Mission 8 in the fall. An astronaut aboard the ISS will conduct the experiment. After approximately six weeks in orbit, the experiment will be returned safely to Earth for data collection and analysis.

All student experiments were designed to work within an existing, flight-certified research mini-laboratory designed by NanoRacks, LLC, and provided through SSEP. In order to give students an experience comparable to the reality of the scientific field, the competition mirrored how professional researchers formally compete to obtain limited research assets. Each team, composed of three to five students, proposed an experiment designed to assess the impact of microgravity on a physical, chemical or biological system in any number of diverse fields, including seed germination, crystal growth, physiology and life cycles of microorganisms, cell biology and growth, food studies, or micro-aquatic life.

As his students worked on designing their experiments, Tubbs sought the guidance of Bob Boyd, professor in the Department of Biological Sciences and former professor of Tubbs, along with other Auburn faculty members. Tubbs’ team was commended for consulting with the researchers and professors.

Tubbs is working to make it possible for the students to attend the launch in Cape Canaveral on June 24. For more information on Tubbs and his sixth grade class, go to this link:

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