Student Spaceflight Experiments Program Mission 17 Update at Clarkson

March 20, 2023

Once again, students are getting ready to send experiments to the International Space Station (ISS). In September of 2022, Clarkson University’s Clarkson Discovery Challenge-Space (CDC-Space) kicked off its Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) Mission 17.

Harrisville Central School senior Nadia Atkinson and sophomore Maia Bernhard use lab equipment.
Harrisville Central School senior Nadia Atkinson and sophomore Maia Bernhard use lab equipment.

This project is funded by a lead donation from Corning Incorporated and the Corning Incorporated Foundation. The program continues to strengthen the strong partnership between Clarkson University and K-12 in regional school districts.

The round one local judges selected three proposals from the approximately 50 submitted from our North Country school partners which include teachers and middle and high school students from Potsdam, Harrisville, Canton, Brasher Falls and Norwood-Norfolk.

The Step 2 Review Board for the SSEP has selected Harrisville Central School senior Nadia Atkinson and sophomore Maia Bernhard, along with their teacher, Nicole Taylor. Their winning experiment for SSEP Mission 17 to the ISS is titled, “The Effects of Microgravity on the Reproduction Cycle of Drosophila melanogaster (Common Fruit Fly).”

“I’m so glad for this opportunity. It’s so stellar,” Atkinson remarked.

“I’m so happy that Harrisville got selected twice in a row, and I’m proud and grateful for the opportunity,” added Bernhard.  

“I’m so proud of these students and their hard work. These girls really wanted it,” said Taylor, who was also the teacher of last year’s winning Mission 16 project.

The students in Mission 17 will compare the outcomes to the results obtained from conducting the same research experiment here on Earth and in the microgravity of space. They will then be invited to attend their experiment’s launch in Cape Canaveral, FL in TIMEFRAME and then present their findings at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C. in TIMEFRAME.

Katie Kavanagh, Director of Clarkson’s Institute for STEM Education and Seema Rivera, Associate Director of Clarkson’s Institute for STEM Education, along with Clarkson Bioscience and Biotechnology Ph.D. student Alicia Lamb, worked together to direct this year’s program.  

“This is a terrific opportunity for students, but it is rigorous,” Rivera said. ”Students must work within quick deadlines, address thoughtful questions about their research and prototype, collaborate with others, and communicate effectively. We’re so grateful to the teachers we have worked with. They all have shown a strong commitment to their students and engaging them in STEM beyond the classroom. They’re truly remarkable and should be commended.”

Thank you again to Corning Incorporated and the Corning Incorporated Foundation for supporting this program to enable students in the North Country to compete in the Space Challenge.

The Student Spaceflight Experiments Program [or SSEP] is a program of the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE) in the U.S. and the Arthur C. Clarke Institute for Space Education internationally. It is enabled through a strategic partnership with Nanoracks LLC, which is working with NASA under a Space Act Agreement as part of the utilization of the International Space Station as a National Laboratory. Learn more about the SSEP:

Clarkson University is a proven leader in technological education, research, innovation and sustainable economic development. With its main campus in Potsdam, N.Y., and additional graduate program and research facilities in the Capital Region and Hudson Valley, Clarkson faculty have a direct impact on more than 7,800 students annually through nationally recognized undergraduate and graduate STEM designated degrees in engineering, business, science and health professions; executive education, industry-relevant credentials and K-12 STEM programs. Alumni earn salaries among the top 2% in the nation: one in five already leads in the c-suite. To learn more go to
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