Toronto students become scientists after sending worms to orbit
New Delhi : It takes decade to earn the name and fame of ‘scientists’. But, surprisingly, the group of students in Toronto receives the title, just by doing a school project.
Four students were in grades 8 through 12 when they first planned shooting a tube of microscopic worms into orbit so they could study the effects of low gravity on muscle deterioration.
Now, they are published scientists, half before getting a high school diploma degree, after their experiment's unexpected findings were featured in the peer-reviewed academic journal "Gravitational Space Research" last week.
"I never would have thought in Grade 8 that I would be doing something so meaningful with science," Annabel Gravely, 16, said.
"The nature of science, it's all about the obstacles. What's really cool about the process is learning different ways to get around those obstacles."
Sources confirmed that the success story began four years ago when a teacher at the University of Toronto Schools put out a call for entries in a student competition to send an experiment to the International Space Station.
Extremely happy by the possibilities of space-related study, Gravely said she wanted her proposal to be "meaningful," so she decided to study the neural disease that led to her grandfather's death a few years ago.
"(Gravely's) question asked three other questions that deserve a further look, and this is the way science works," said Batt. "This may be a real finding that could be quite significant for looking at regulation of muscle mass in the future."
With Gravely and Vlasov promoting to Grade 12, and university students Freeman and Wu mulling over medical school applications, the young scientists are not sure about their summer vacations.
But Freeman, 21, hopes a new gang of young scientists are already busy at work with their next outer space discoveries.
"At any age, you can do science, and you can participate in the scientific process," she said. "If you have an idea, don't just kind of ignore it because you think that you're too young to do it."