STEM experiment heads for space

Microbrewery will be in microgravity

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Tap the imagination of an 11-year-old boy and you never know what you might discover. Take a gander into STEM School seventh-grader Michal Bodzianowski’s and you may find a scientist in the making.

Bodzianowski recently learned an experiment he proposed will be conducted on the International Space Station over a six-week period beginning this November.

One of 300 sixth- and eighth-graders at the Highlands Ranch school to complete a proposal this spring, Bodzianowski was one of three selected by teachers, parents and a few engineers from nearby Raytheon to have their experiments submitted to the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program.

Out of 3,000 national submissions, Bodzianowski’s experiment, “What are the effects of the creation of beer in microgravity and is it possible?” was just one of 11 selected to launch aboard Space X Mission 4 on Nov. 11 from Cape Canaveral in Florida.

Bodzianowski will attend the launch with his father, Tom, and celebrate seeing his experiment go up into space just two days after his 12th birthday.

“It’s going to be one of the best birthday presents I’ve ever had,” he said. “I’m really excited. Being the first kid, not just in the county or in the school, but in the whole state, to get my experiment to fly into space, I never expected this.”

Bodzianowski selected the subject matter for his experiment after researching what experiments had already been conducted in space and after reading a book about beer being more popular than water in medieval times. He said he also had heard that wine was once made in space, so he wondered if beer could be too.

“It was kind of a surprise to us,” said Tom Bodzianowski on the subject. “He has never tried beer, but he is very interested in chemical reactions and creating things. He is very hands-on. One day, he just came home and asked for all the ingredients.”

And while Michal began running experiments at home, he was not setting out to create his own batch of beer, but instead testing a variety of yeast reactions. He said his hope is that if one can make beer in space, then alcohol should also be able to be created for emergency medical purposes.

“We are calling it Colorado’s first microbrewery in space,” said Bodzianowski’s teacher Sharon Combs, adding that Michal’s experiment will fly side by side with a number of industry experiments as well as the other 10 selected by the SSEP.

“When I heard about the concept, I thought NASA would never approve it, but it just shows how much fun science can be,” said Penny Eucker, executive director of the school. “We have only one experiment from Colorado going, and I’m thinking, of course, it’s Colorado, it’s got to be beer.”