Students sending science experiment to International Space Station: 'Awesome opportunity'

New science experiments are heading to the International Space Station with a special project on board, created by middle schoolers on the Space Coast. 

NASA is targeting Tuesday for its next resupply mission to the ISS, and five 8th graders from Pinecrest Academy Space Coast will be watching their experiment lift off from Kennedy Space Center.

The group, known as "The Bacteria Boys", was chosen from a national competition to send their science to space.   

Their project will test whether a main ingredient in horseshoe crab blood can detect bacteria in space.

"We are testing for endotoxins which are basically fevers and organ failures – any sort or disease really," said Luke Costa who’s part of the team.

The goal of the project is to help astronauts stay healthy by finding infections that could make them sick, and their project uses horseshoe crab blood because of its rare characteristics. 

"Horseshoe crab blood is one of the few things known to man that detect endotoxins in surgical equipment or human tissue," said Evan Ireland who’s also part of the group. 


When their experiment makes it to space, the ISS astronauts will put their experiment to the test. 

"In one of the tubes, there will be the horseshoe crab blood, and in the other one, there will be the re-agent. Then they’re going to unclamp this one to reveal the re-agent, the LAL, and shake it up," said team member Eric Distasi. "Then they’ll unclamp this one with the E.coli in it and shake it up to see if it will detect if there’s something there." 

These students worked on the project together for about a year. They came up with the idea on their own and were picked from more than 2,000 other proposals across the country.

"Being able to work as a team and come up with an idea that was selected by the government essentially is quite an awesome opportunity to have," added Liam Hauser. 

Pinecrest’s STEM Director supported the boys every step of the way. Consuelo Praetorius is beaming with joy because the accomplishment is the first time a group of local students has landed a spot on an ISS mission. 

"Our students, The Bacteria Boys team, really thrived in this because they were able to use the way that they learned," Praetorius said. 

She’s encouraging more local schools to take part in projects like this to spark STEM interests in young kids who live on the Space Coast.