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Students get ready for blast off

Three fifth graders from Ballston SpaDana Betti, Jordyn Catherall and Kate Yagerwill send a part of themselves off into space on Feb.27, 2011. The group's experiment proposal, "The Development of Minnow Fish Eggs in Space," was selected by a national committee through the Student Spaceflight Program. Ballston Spa School District was one of 16 communities across the country to participate.

"We're very excited we got chosen and think it's a great opportunity for us," said Betti.

Yager and Catherall said they couldn't contain themselves when they got the news.

"I honestly wanted to scream! When I grow up I want to be a scientist and we were really hoping to be chosen," said Yager.

A total of 20,000 students in grades five through twelve participated, submitting 447 proposals, 250 of which were put forth for review by community review boards. That number was whittled down to 43 finalists, which the national review board picked from. Ballston Spa itself produced 70 completed proposals, but the girls' experiment was deemed the best.

With science advisors, the girls got to work answering a series of questions to form the proposal.

"We're seeing how the lack of gravity effects the development of minnow fish eggs. We think that since gravity holds everything together, once they go up in space they might mutate," said Betti. "We think the tail might be in the wrong spot or they might not grow to their full length."

The experiment could have longer lasting implications than just satisfying their curiosity.

"If something ever happened to earth, we could know how to grow fish and see if we could actually live on fish and live those on other planets. It probably could help with other life in space too," said Yager.

Now that they know what they have to do, it's time to get down to work and actually set up their experiment. Since it's a time sensitive activity"they must plan for when the egg will actually grow"the girls will preload a special capsule at the school and then ship it to the shuttle location right when it's ready to fly.

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