MCPS Student’s STEM Experiment to Be Tested in Outer Space

June 24, 2016

An experiment designed by Parkland Middle School student Alana McCarthy Light will be tested on the International Space Station

This summer, Parkland Middle School student Alana McCarthy Light will have her science experiment sent to space as part of the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP).

Alana’s experiment is designed to determine how probiotics will react in a microgravity environment. During the mission, two identical experiments will be performed—one in a mini-laboratory on the International Space Station (ISS) and another in a lab in Maryland—to determine the effects of microgravity and slight radiation on probiotics in space. The findings could help scientists better understand the storage of medicine that could be used for astronauts.

Parkland is a magnet school for aerospace technology, and Alana’s STEM experiment was selected from 83 proposals submitted by students from Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS). A local committee of 15 STEM professionals, MCPS educators, community members, and professors selected the top three experiments and submitted them to the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE). From there, the national review board selected Alana’s experiment to represent the MCPS community on the ISS. Alana will be among a select group of elementary through undergraduate students who will have the opportunity to conduct research in microgravity as part of SSEP Mission 8 to the ISS.  She is one of just 14 students from across the country and Canada selected for this mission.

In addition, two student-designed mission patches will travel to the space station with the experiment. Eighth grader Olivia Miller from Parkland Middle School and sixth grader Elke Stumpf from A. Mario Loiederman Middle School created the artwork for the patches.

Funding and support from ADNET Systems, Inc., Lockheed Martin Corporation Foundation, Maryland Space Grant Consortium, Millennium Engineering Integration Company, Society of Satellite Professionals, and Washington Space Business Roundtable are making this experience possible.


About Montgomery County Public Schools

MCPS is the largest school district in Maryland, serving more than 156,000 students at 202 schools. With more than 22,000 employees, the county’s mission is that every student will have the academic, creative problem solving, and social emotional skills to be successful in college and career. For more information, visit the county’s website at

About the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program

The Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) ( is undertaken by the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE;, in partnership with Nanoracks, LLC.


This on-orbit educational research opportunity is enabled through NanoRacks, LLC, which is working in partnership with NASA.

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