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Cubes in Space! Middle school girls’ science experiments hitch a ride on NASA launches.

It takes imagination, creativity, critical thinking and non-traditional problem-solving skills to design an experiment that is connected to a real-world Earth or space-based problem and fit into a 4cm X by 4cm by 4cm plastic cube. As part of the Cubes in Space program, that’s exactly what students do!
During the 2018-2019 academic year, 26 Cranbrook Schools girls – 23 eighth-grade students plus 3 ninth-grade students – participated in the Cubes in Space program. The Cranbrook team submitted 18 proposals for space flight and an incredible 13 of them were accepted for launch. This brings the total number of Cranbrook experiments accepted for launch to 23 over the past 4 years.
Cubes in Space, a program by idoodledu inc., is the only global competition, offered at no cost, for students 11-18 years of age to design and propose experiments to launch into space or a near space environment on a NASA sounding rocket and zero-pressure scientific balloon. The integrative STEAM-based program is in collaboration with NASA Goddard Space Flight Center’s Wallops Flight Facility, NASA Langley Research Center and the Colorado Space Grant Consortium. Cubes in Space brings to young explorers the opportunities to discover answers to their own questions.
In addition to fielding a remarkably high number of successful experiments, the Cranbrook team is the only all-girls middle school team in the nation to have experiments accepted and launched.
Ashlie Smith, science teacher at Cranbrook Kingswood Middle School for Girls, has been the facilitator for the program since she first brought it to Cranbrook Schools. Awarded Outstanding Educator Ambassador for Cubes in Space this year, she will be presenting for the Cubes program in Houston at the annual space teacher conference and was recently asked to represent the Cubes program internationally.
Says Smith, “There are two vehicles to launch from; a sounding rocket, launched out of NASA Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, and a high-altitude scientific research balloon that is launched out of the NASA Columbia Flight Facility in New Mexico. We can only obtain 3 spots on the rocket (which was launched in June). The rest of our experiments will be launched on the high-altitude balloon any day now. The rocket is only a 7-minute flight with 2-3 minutes in microgravity, and you get your experiment back later that day if you want. The balloon is a 30- to 40-hour drift above the stratosphere and is extremely weather dependent because of the lower and upper atmospheric winds that can affect it. We have been pushed back in terms of our launch for weeks.”
On June 18th, 10 students and their parents travelled with Smith to NASA Wallops Flight Facility Island in Virginia to present their experiments to other students, parents, Cubes in Space and NASA officials, and watch the rocket launch. (Watch the video here!)
Since 2014, Cubes in Space has flown 700 experiments representing 2200 educators and over 21,000 students from 73 different countries.
idoodledu inc., is an educational non-profit organization that helps students embrace their curiosity and imagination while experiencing the joy of discovering and learning something new while offering students boundless opportunities to develop logical, methodical and creative solutions to problems.

The Cubes in Space Team:
Ariba Hassan
Sadie Sawyer
Jordan Richie
Daelyn Short
Skylar Fierens
Madison Kastner
Samantha Pappas
Brynn Mishko
Anna Timko
Corrine Jordan
Sophia Pedersoli
Neema Baddam
Saloni Naik
Ella Rizzo
Sylee Acharya
Julia Kwiatkowski
Aditi Kapadia
Sabrina Smith
Peyton Schumacher
Margaret Yu
Yutong Lily Hu
Mazia Leonard
9th grade 2018/19 Riya Batra
9th grade 2018/19 Vivianne Armstrong
9th grade 2018/19 Emma Christides

The Cubes in Space Experiments:
  • The Effects of a Short Burst of High Gravitational Force on the Strength of Bones
  • The Effects of Atmospheric Radiation on the Protein Content of Lyophilized Tenebrio molitor Larvae
  • The Effect of Neutron Radiation Exposure on the Tensile Strength of Fluorocarbon, Nylon, and Titanium Guitar Strings
  • The Effects of Space Flight on the Durability of Cement Concrete
  • The Effects of Radiation in the Upper Stratosphere on a Loop Recorder
  • The Effects of Radiation in the Upper Stratosphere on a Genetically Modified Seed versus a Non-Genetically Modified Seed
  • The Effects of Drastic Temperature Fluctuations on the Antibiotic Cefazolin using Lead, Demron, and Mylar Fabrics.
  • The Effects of Radiation Exposure in the Upper Stratosphere on the Antibiotic Cefazolin using Lead, Demron, and Mylar Fabrics
  • Comparing the effect of high levels of radiation on the brittleness of fiberglass coated with Polytetrafluoroethylene and fiberglass alone.
  • The Effect of High Stratosphere Radiation Exposure on a Micro SD card.
  • The Effect of Light and Radiation on Strength of Fabrics
  • The Effect of High Stratosphere Radiation Exposure on a Micro SD card.
  • The Effects of Radiation Exposure in the Upper Stratosphere on the Growth of K12 strain of Freeze-Dried Escherichia coli
  • The Effect of Radiation from a Balloon Launch on a Tooth Cured with Dental Composite
  • The Effects of Radiation in the Upper Stratosphere on an Acetazolamide Tablet
  • The Effects of a Sub-Orbital Rocket Launch on Electrical Solder
    • The official cargo cubes waiting to be loaded.

    • On the horizon: the NASA rocket carrying the Cranbrook experiments.

    • The team gathers to load the experiments into the “cubes.”

    • Not much space in space: smart, compact design was essential to each experiment’s success.

    • The Cranbrook team in Virginia for the launch.