I was about six or seven years old, when I started to get into science, especially biology and astronomy. Growing up, my parents, especially my dad, an established radiologist, was more than happy to foster my interest. Living in the UK, I always knew I wanted to work in the field of space but I never really had any possibilities because I lived too close to London. Even when my family and I moved to Canada, I faced a similar situation.
About six months after moving to Florida, my 7th grade science teacher connected me with my county Florida 4-H agent, who was looking for one more person from my county to join 4-H's collaboration with Higher Orbits, also known as Go For Launch.
Four states 4-H’s (Florida, Arizona, Illinois, and Indiana) and Higher Orbits, got together to create 4-H in Space, in which twelve kids from 8-12 grade from each state went down to Cape Canaveral and participated in a Go For Launch event. With twelve teams in total, each team having one member from each state, it is an understatement to say it was interesting to see the differences on how people from other states react to Florida.
Despite it being a tad awkward being the youngest by a large gap and the only girl on my team, we got along well. Originally, we wanted to name ourselves Team Glasses, but after some brainstorming we decided to name ourselves Team Space Goats.(Hints: look at the zodiac constellation Saturn was in July 2022). Please don’t ask.
We brainstormed for ideas and wrote them down in my sketchbook. I suggested the idea of an experiment with cyanobacteria, after reading an article about it being potentially used for mining on Mars, a few days before. While trying not to fling my laptop across the room because of its annoying persistence to not connect to the WIFI, Krish (Illinois) discovered about and suggested Spirulina.
Spirulina is a cyanobacteria under the category of algae, and is rich in vitamins, one tablespoon containing four grams of protein. Covering the problems of continuous supply protein in space for long distance trips, we found our experiment. Cove (Arizona) added on to our experiment idea, with one half growing under regular LED lights and the other under a purple one, to see which wavelength of light would the spirulina act best under.
When we weren’t working on our experiment, 4-H organized multiple activities for the members of the other three states to truly experience. My personal favourite was when some rangers brought two alligators, (the one year old was little less than double my hand length!). Due to everyone being from different sides of the U.S. right after the presentations and judging, they immediately announced the winners.
Much to my surprise and delight my team, Team Space Goats, won the event, and soon our experiment will be flown to the Space Station, with three other teams from other events.
I’ll like to personally thank my seventh grade science teacher Ms. Tina Sachs, and my county agent Ms. Elane Giles, for getting me connected to such a wonderful experience, and of course to Higher Orbits, and Ms. Michelle Lucas, for being the reason this event existed.
If you ever get the chance to participate in a Go For Launch, do it. Trust me, it’s worth the stress.