NASA today announced a team from Troy, Mich., is the winner of the first
nationwide science contest that provides students a unique opportunity to conduct
their own research using one of NASA’s state-of-the-art, ground-based hypergravity

NASA Exploration Systems Mission Directorate officials named the “Centrifu-G’s”
the Hyper-G contest’s main prizewinner. The team will visit NASA’s Ames Research
Center, Moffett Field, Calif., in May. The team will conduct research at Ames
using the International Space Station Test Bed Centrifuge, a hypergravity

“The hypergravity competition represents one of the most innovative and exciting
scientific opportunities for students,” said NASA Ames Education Director Mark
Leon. “Not only does this particular experiment give students real science
experience, it also puts them toe to toe with some of the worlds leading
researchers in this field,” Leon said.

Tianna Shaw, manager of the Facility Utilization Office, and Dr. Jeff Smith, Ames’
Assistant Chief of the Gravitational Research Branch, will help the students
develop plans for the experiment. “This will be a unique opportunity for the
students to experience the real-world application of science and engineering,”
Shaw said.

“Hypergravity is levels of gravity above one ‘G,’ or greater than Earth’s
gravity,” Smith said. “NASA researchers conduct hypergravity experiments on
centrifuges to understand how gravity causes changes in humans and other living
organisms,” he explained.

Understanding how a particular species changes in hypergravity helps scientists
predict and better understand how the species will change in space or on another
planet, which is essential for successful realization of the Vision for Space

Centrifu-G’s team members will study wound healing in the flatworm “Planaria,”
which has many physiological systems in common with humans. Students hypothesized
that flatworms exposed to hypergravity will experience a slower rate of

“Studying the combined processes of wound healing and gravity stress in these tiny
animals may provide clues to successfully treating wounds that might be sustained
by astronauts on future long-term missions to the moon or Mars,” Smith said.

During the students’ visit to Ames, their teachers will have an opportunity to
help guide them through the scientific process, while learning about hands-on
methods in biology, physics and mathematics as they relate to NASA’s exploration
biology research.

The competition began in September 2004. Each student team entered the contest by
submitting a letter of intent, stating the idea for a scientific experiment. In
December 2004, 27 high school student teams from 10 states provided proposals.
NASA engineers and scientists advised students throughout the proposal development

In addition to the grand prize, there are three honorable mention teams: Vinegar
Eel Nematodes Under Study, Columbus, Ga.; the Team Infinity Universe, Los Alamos,
N.M.; and the 12 Volt Super Shockers, Boise, Idaho.

The Treasure Valley Math and Science Center, Boise, Idaho, also received special
commendation to acknowledge the number and quality of experimental ideas

For more information about the Hyper-G competition on the Web, visit:

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