COLUMBIA, S.C.—Three South Carolina high school students whose experiment was chosen for the International Space Station have gotten the results back. Tevin Glover, Parker Matthews, and Cedric McQueen are all sophomores at Keenan High in Columbia and had their experiment chosen after a contest.
The experiment used starch mixed with water to see if the microgravity of space would affect the transparency of the mixture, called its turbidity. They had a sample here on earth, called a “ground truth,” for comparison.
Cedric McQueen says, “After we measured the turbidity, our ground truth and the experiment we sent up to space had the same turbidity, so it showed microgravity didn’t really have any effect on the turbidity of the liquid, so basically that means the starch concentration, it wasn’t affected.”
The experiment has implications for the ability to grow plants in space or on other planets, something that will be crucial to man’s ability to travel greater distances in space. Tevin Glover says, “If all this light can pass through the substance on the ground and … all the light can also pass through in microgravity, then that shows that we can have plant growth in space.”
They plan to design other experiments to test other variables.
The fact that they had an experiment chosen for the space station has made them celebrities on campus, and their science and engineering teacher, Kareem Beckett, says he’ll use their example with other students. “They’re like the first ones to do it, and I’m quite sure that we’re going to have other competitions for the students to actually be able to compete to do activities like this,” he says.