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Utah students' science project to launch with Endeavour Friday


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MIDVALE -- A science project from Utah will also be on board Endeavour's final flight, and the Hillcrest High School students and their teacher are headed to Cape Canaveral for the launch.

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The launch is scheduled to take place Friday afternoon. The Hillcrest students' project, which was designed it through the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program, it is the only one from Utah to qualify to be on board.

"We're trying to see the effect of microgravity on embryonic development, and we're doing this through observing the effect on morphogens in a species of frog," explained Hillcrest student Keltson Howell.

The students are studying DNA and chose the African clawed frog for travel on the shuttle because of its short developmental cycle -- 40 stages in ten days.

One of their biggest hurdles was to get the frog eggs to Endeavour. Scientists at the Florida Institute of Technology assisted.

"Just yesterday, the eggs were laid; and yesterday afternoon they were loaded," said physics teacher Jonathan Miller. "We got the timing just right, which was one of the biggest challenges, but it all worked out."

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Miller said he is very proud of his three students -- Keltson Howell, Megan Dolle and Nikos Liodakis. The paper they wrote and the project they developed was all done on their own time, at least 40 extra hours of it.

With their experiment accepted, the students and their teacher will travel to see the launch and have an opportunity to visit with scientists at NASA.

"We're really going to see more about science," Liodakis said. "We're really going to invest with contacts and with people. We're going to be able to ask questions, and they're going to explain to us what happens and how to get to that level to further the study of science."

Space flight is fascinating, they say; to be a part of it is even better.

"It was so exciting when we first found out the experiment was selected," Howell said, "and the excitement's grown. And now with the launch only being two days away, it's awesome."

The students will be posting photos of Friday's launch on the Canyons School District website, www.canyonsdistrict.org.

You can watch the launch live on ksl.com Friday beginning at 1:45 p.m.

Email: cmikita@ksl.com

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Carole Mikita

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