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Farragut High students, alum send science project to space

It’s not every day teenagers can say a science project they created went to space. But one Knox County School’s students did just that.
Published: Mar. 9, 2021 at 6:19 PM EST
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FARRAGUT, Tenn. (WVLT) - It’s not every day teenagers can say a science project they created went to space. But one Knox County School’s students did just that.

“I like science a lot,” said Taylor Sussmane.

Now a UT freshman, Sussmane completed a project she started her senior year at Farragut High School.

“It’s really cool,” said Sussmane, “And I always tell my classmates about it now. I just feel really cool about it.”

Part of the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program, she and two other Farragut High School students got the opportunity of a life time, and it’s truly out of this world.

The group was selected as the winner from Knox County Schools to send their experiment to space.

“I kind of put out an announcement saying ‘hey is anybody interested come see me’ and Taylor Sussmane came to me and was like yes I’m interested,” said Neely Tonos, biology teacher and sponsor of the project, “It takes a lot of work and commitment and they have to be able to be flexible.”

It was a lot of hard work, then the waiting game.

When the pandemic hit, organizers had to delay when it would actually go to space.

But in December the big moment happened and all the hard work paid off when the group’s project took flight.

Group member and UT freshman Rachel Constantine watched the launch with her family.

“It was really nice. It felt like it was finally coming together,” said Constantine.

Farragut High senior Blake Cragen said he liked having the bragging rights, “It’s been a really unique experience.”

So what’s their project? They monitored cabbage. Why cabbage? When it ferments lactic acid is made. Lactic acid is also what our muscles produce when you’re using them.

So seeing how lactic acid reacts in places with little gravity can show us how our muscles work in space versus here on earth.

The results were both exciting and surprising.

“The results from today are definitely way better than what we had expected and it’s really nice to see that it turned out way better than what we could’ve imagined,” said Cragen.

“This research experience will definitely help me because I’m thinking about going into research,” said Sussmane.

It was an amazing accomplishment written in the stars. Tonos said, “More than anything, just proud, and excited.”

The students plan to publish their research.

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