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Shuttle launches with Utah students' experiment on board


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SANDY -- Students and teachers from Hillcrest High School cheered as Space Shuttle Endeavour launched Monday morning with their science project on-board.

Prior to the launch, nerves were running high at the Canyons School District offices in Sandy, where students, teachers, parents and other supporters gathered to watch a live stream of the shuttle blasting off.

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The students put a lot of work into their science project, which is designed to examine the effects of microgravity on frog embryos.

The launch had been scrubbed twice previously.

"Which put us into a frenzy to get new samples," said Hillcrest High physics teacher Jonathan Miller. "Because since we are looking at embryonic development, we want the freshest possible eggs to go up on the space shuttle flight."

Miller and his students have been studying how frogs develop. They say gravity can play a serious role in things like the diffusion of morphigens.

The last time the launch was scrubbed, they needed to get fresh eggs sent overnight. That involved breeding African Claw frogs in a bathtub.

Eleventh grader Megan Dolle explained, "We got some hormones and we injected them to induce their breeding so we could get some fresh eggs to deliver to the space center."

Hillcrest students Nikos Liodakis, Keltson Howell and Megan Dolle in late November learned their science project was among 16 nationwide selected to fly aboard Endeavour as part of the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program. Click here for more information on that program.

Written with contributions from Andrew Adams.

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