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Area students eye second space mission

This mission patch was submitted by a student group from Life Learning Cooperative in Anderson, Avicenna Academy's program partners. Chosen from among a number of entries, the patch that will be flown aboard Atlantis on the last space shuttle mission features Avicenna Academy's school colors (green and gold) and has the group's collaboration name on it.

Provided by Avicenna Academy

CROWN POINT | The scientific minds at Avicenna Academy are looking up for an encore.

Last summer, a group of students from the private school stood in Florida's Kars Park watching the launch of the final U.S. space shuttle, knowing one of its experiments was aboard.

The opportunity to design a space experiment was given to the group through the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program, a nationwide Science, Engineering, Technology and Mathematics education initiative by the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education.

This year, the Avicenna Academy Science Community Collaboration is a consortium of three private, Northwest Indiana schools — Avicenna Academy in Crown Point, Forest Ridge Academy in Schererville and Highland Christian School.

They have embarked on Avicenna Academy Science Community Collaboration second Student Spaceflight Experiments Program mission. Students are sending an experiment to the International Space Station, where they will test the effect of microgravity on some biological, chemical or physical system for up to six weeks this spring.

The students worked last fall on experimental design proposals, as SSEP is a community-based competition. The proposals went through the Phase I selection panel just after Thanksgiving and the final three proposals were sent on to the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education for the final selection process. The winning proposal will be the experiment sent to the International Space Station aboard Soyuz 30.

"The ability to think critically and solve problems is necessary to be competitive in today's and tomorrow's job market," said Avicenna Academy Principal Amanda Arceo, who also serves as Avicenna Academy Science Community Collaboration's program director.

"SSEP is ideal in this regard, since the program's experiment design competition requires students to utilize information they've gained in the classroom and expand upon it by further research and investigation."

The scientific element is not the only way to get involved with SSEP, however. Avicenna Academy Science Community Collaboration's participation in the mission to the International Space Station will be represented by two mission patches.

The patches can be designed by Northwest Indiana community members 5 and older. "You do not have to be a student at one of the consortium's schools in order to submit an entry," Arceo said. "The winning patch will be flown aboard the International Space Station along with our experiment in the spring. The patch will be stamped after flight for authentication and returned to the person who made the submission."

Mission Patch entries must be on a 4-by-4-inch single piece of paper, and its design should reflect pride in the community and participation in the SSEP.

The patch must include the colors dark green and gold, the acronym AASCC, the words "SSEP: Mission 1 ISS," the names or initials of the schools in the consortium: (Avicenna Academy or AA; Forest Ridge Academy or FRA; and Highland Christian Academy or HCA), and some representation of the state.

Entries must be submitted by Jan. 13 and must include: contact information of the submitter, names and ages of all contributing artists and a brief description of the design.

Submissions may be emailed as a JPEG image to (write "mission patch entry" as your subject line and wait for an email verifying receipt); mail the entry to Avicenna Academy, attention: Amanda Arceo, 9803 Colorado St., Crown Point, IN 46307; or hand your submission in to a program co-director, Arceo, Jeremy Johnson at Forest Ridge Academy or Sara Timmer at Highland Christian School.

For more information, call Arceo at (219) 736-7100.