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The NASA Village

Today in the NASA Village… Can you Grow Cheese in Space?

Did you know there are several programs where students can apply to have their experiments flown on the International Space Station? The Foundation for International Space Education (FISE) encourages students of all ages to design and propose real experiments to fly in low Earth orbit.  Thomas and Nick Hall are two brothers that participated in this program.  Thomas designed an experiment to test growing cheese in space, and his brother, Nick, designed an experiment to grow toothpaste in space.

When asked what his greatest hurdle was with growing cheese in space, student researcher Thomas said, “One of the biggest hurdles I face is just simply staying focused. Being a student experimenter is very difficult especially in between the ages of 14 and 18, mainly because those are most kids high school years and during these years many kids are either drowned with homework, hanging out with friends, or out partying.”

It is so important we get young students interested early in perusing topics that are out of this world. The experiments chosen are carried out by the astronauts aboard the space station.  In the case of cheese balls, Karen Nyberg carried out the experiment and reported back the findings (apparently she was unable to grow the cheese).

When Nick Hall was asked about his experiment to grow toothpaste, he said the most inspiring part was, “Thomas Hall III.  My brother was the most inspiring because he was also doing the experiment so he was helping me do the experiment.”

The story of the Hall brothers is a great reminder that experimentation is just that - trials and tests of ideas - but, ultimately, reminds us of the importance of the relationships we have developed on the ground.

Do you have an idea for a research project in space?  Do you have a student researcher in mind? Find out how to apply at Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) and learn more about space station education opportunities at STEM on Station.

Next time on the NASA Village… The Latest Fashion Sucks.

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