Mission 4 was the first time that PSA participated in the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) and I was very excited to compete. All students in grades 6-10 were engaged in competitive, scientific proposal writing. Many of us even attended after-school proposal writing sessions called "Above & Beyond" sessions. Mentors from the community came to PSA to provide guidance and help us all develop ideas. These mentors came from all over, including SPAWAR, College of Charleston, SCRA, and SRC.
That year, 78 proposals were submitted to a Step 1 Review Board, who chose the top three proposals in a completely name-blind process. The top three for Mission 4 were How does microgravity affect the oxidation of an iron bar in a saltwater solution? by seventh-graders Griffin Eslinger and Alexander Puckhaber; Microgravity and the Development of Tin Whiskers in Lead-Free Solder by Joe and me; Microgravity and the Coagulation of Erthrocytes by Delaney Chariker, Hunter Black, Christopher Otap, and Maddy Bessinger.
The top three proposals were then sent to the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE) administration in Washington, DC, for consideration by the Step 2 Review Board, who selects one experiment for spaceflight. The winner for Mission 4 was, How does Microgravity affect the Oxidation of an Iron Bar in a Saltwater Solution?.
Failure is a part of the scientific process, it must be embraced and learned from. Real scientists face rejection, improve, and submit again-- just like the Tin Whiskies went on to do.