Yeshiva Ketana Students Watch Final Atlantis Launch


yeshiva-ketana-of-long-islandNot only did 18 Yeshiva Ketana of Long Island students witness the final launch of the Shuttle Atlantis on Friday in person, but they were part of it.

The students were among 11 groups and the only one in New York State chosen by the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program, a national organization dedicated to inspiring the next generation of scientists and engineers, to have their experiments launched into space along with Atlantis and transported to the International Space Station. The fifth, sixth and seventh graders along with parent and school chaperones left for Florida on Thursday.

“When we first learned of this program and realized what it entailed, we had no doubt we could pull it off,” said Woodmere resident Stew Greenberg, a parent of one of the students and the project’s coordinator. “The outpouring of excitement that these volunteers showed and their willingness to work after-hours and weekends kept us going for the past few months.”

The Inwood school found out that the students’ experiment, “Deposition and Formation of Zinc Phosphate Crystals in Microgravity,” was a winner on May 18. It was readied and transferred to the Kennedy Space Center on June 28. The experiment program was paid for through corporate sponsorships exceeding $25,000, according to Greenberg.

The students’ experiments are loaded in the Multi-Purpose Logistics Module, which will be removed from the shuttle and attached to a port of the space station.

So why bring the experiments into space?

“There’s one facet of experimental work on the Earth that we can’t ever change, and that’s gravity,” Humphries said. “On the space station, we can remove that as a variable in the equation. That provides unique insight into the human body, combustion, bacteria and a host of other areas.”

He added, “We’re trying to get our next generation of explorers involved in space-like research.”

The Yeshiva Ketana group spent Shabbos in Orlando before returning to the Kennedy Space Center today to learn the history of the place and have lunch with astronaut Bruce Melnick. When Atlantis returns to Earth, the experiment will be returned to the students to compare it to one conducted in the school’s lab.

Greenberg said the winning students inspired the entire school.

“It’s a big thrill to see a rocket blast into space, but to be part of the science going up there, the emotion involved in that is really intense,” he said. “The boys are anxious to get [there] and soak it all up.”

{Five Towns Patch/ Newscenter}