Out-of-this-world success for Lockport student

A team of students from Lockport High School has become finalists in the Student Spaceflight Experiments program.

The program is conducted by the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education, and three Western New York student teams have been selected as finalists. The teams will now move to the final round of judging and a winner will be selected on Dec. 13. It is enabled through a 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.

Student scientists have created and designed flight experiments that can be conducted by astronauts onboard the International Space Station as part of the Take Flight Space Experiments Program. 

Teams of three to five students investigate topics like seed germination, crystal growth, food studies, cell biology, and physiology and life cycles of micro-organisms, according to officials. The students then create an experiment that will be presented to an expert panel. All teams compete to be the one whose project is delivered to the International Space Station, performed by a mission astronaut and returned for analysis to the students.” 

A team from LHS placed in the top three for its experiment, "Microgravity's Effect on T4 Bacteriophages' Efficability on E.coli."

LHS physics Teacher Shelley Bochicchio, one of the team advisors along with biology teacher Tom Schultz, said that the project revolved around the idea of using T4 Bacteriophages, a bacteria. She said antibiotics don't work in zero gravity conditions, and so the students wondered if the T4 Bacteriophages could attack the E. coli bacteria in zero gravity conditions.  

Bochicchio said it feels "crazy" for the students to have placed, adding that this is the second year in a row that LHS students have placed in the final round of this competition. 

"These our high school students coming up with this idea," she said.

In 2018, a team from Wellsville Secondary School launched its experiment on the ISS to determine if ascorbic acid may have healing potential in promoting cell regeneration in space. In 2015, “The Spud Launchers” from Buffalo’s Hamlin Park Academy won for examining whether tubers might be viable for agri-space growth.

WNY Student Researchers are from: Futures Preparatory School, Research Laboratory Program for Bioinformatics and Life Sciences at Bennett High School, Hamlin Park Claude and Ouida Clapp Academy, Harvey Austin School, International Preparatory School, Dr. Lydia T. Wright School of Excellence, King Urban Life Center, Buffalo Academy of Science Charter School, Global Concepts Charter School, Olean High School; Lockport High School, Wellsville Secondary School, Depew Middle School, Depew High School and Salamanca High School.