Return of SSEP Project


Last year, Berea Community Middle and High School held a competition to create a science experiment that would go into space to be tested onboard the International Space Station. The Student Spaceflight Experiment Program (SSEP) for Berea was funded by the Gear Up program, and it was a great opportunity for the students of Berea to learn more about the real-world applications of science.


The winner of the competition was a group of Berea high school seniors. The Principal Investigator was Micheal Mecham, and he was aided by Co-Investigators Brent Robinson and Lucas Hannon. Together, these students got the opportunity to send a well-developed experiment up into space and see the results.


The experiment itself was based around how rust develops in space. In the experiment, International Space Station astronauts measured how much rust accumulates on a nail in microgravity. To attain a comparable result, the group conducted the same experiment on the ground acting as a control group.  When asked about how the experiment went Mecham replied, “The [nail] that rusts less weighs more, so basically the [nail] in space weighed more meaning that it didn’t rust as much.” Mecham and his group are still in the process of analyzing the data but as it stands the results were conclusive.


In July, Mecham had the opportunity to travel to Cape Canaveral, Florida and watch the launch of his group’s experiment. Sadly, due to weather, SpaceX had to postpone the lift-off by one day, meaning that Mecham wasn’t able to see his experiment leave. Even so, the experiments returned to Earth in late August and the group has been working on analyzing the results since.