Back in March 2013 the team of eight Girl Scouts of Hawaii sent a Microlab consisting of a self contain vessel with 8 arugula seeds, potting soil, lighting, water, camera and timing electronics to the International Space Station (ISS). The Microlab was sent to the ISS onboard the Space X Falcon 9 rocket on a supply delivery.
After 30 day aboard the ISS and making the land journey back to Hawaii, the team took apart their Microlab to see if they were successful at germinating the arugula seeds. Of the eight seeds one did sprout a root about .5 inches long. Several of the seeds did not germinate but with the one, it was considered a success.
The design of the Microlab consisted of a light source and water dispenser controlled by a timed valve. The water sack needed to be under constant pressure in order to dispense properly. The team devised a pressure system using rubber bands. I was impressed with their ingenuity and attention to space and costs. I told them this was right from MacGyver and they all looked at me with the question, Who’s MacGyver?
The team spent the better part of 6 months preparing for the launch. All from Hawaii high schools, the girls came from Iolani, Mililani, Nanakuli, Punahou and Sacred Hearts Academy. They designed the experiment, tested various seed options, constructed the seed container and programmed electronics for environmental control. Gail Hannemann, Executive Director of the Girl Scouts of Hawaii, considered this such a great learning experience she plans to enter another team on the next “Design It, Build It, Launch It” mission to the ISS.