Students recognized for statewide achievement

The Winfield Middle School students whose kudzu germination project was chosen to be performed on the International Space Station, presented their project at the National Air and Science Museum of the Smithsonian Institute. Pictured are (from left) student researchers Will May, Cole Kirkpatrick, Seth Birdsong, Banks Roebuck and Izzy Steward.

WINFIELD - The group of Winfield Middle School students that became the first group in the state to be selected to send a science project into space to be performed on the International Space Station, was recognized by the middle school on Friday, Aug. 24.
The team included students Will May, Cole Kirkpatrick, Seth Birdsong, Banks Roebuck and Izzy Stewart. Together, the group formulated an experiment that would test the effects of gravity on the germination of kudzu seeds.
Winfield Middle School Principal Scott Goodwin opened the ceremony, telling the audience that the school was proud of the group’s achievement.
“We’re so proud of what they’ve been able to do,” said Goodwin.
According to seventh-grade science teacher Freida Curd, the students chose kudzu because of its high nutritional value, possible use as a medicine and fast rate of growth.
Roebuck told the audience that it took many trials to figure out how to get kudzu seeds to germinate.
The kudzu group went to Washington, D.C., to present their project at the National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institution June 28 - 29.
Students described their project to the audience and set up their project afterward and answered the questions of museum attendees.
Due to the trip, the students could not attend the shuttle launch in Florida on June 28, but were able to watch the launch live from the museum at 5 a.m.
The students were able to communicate with astronaut Ricky Arnold, who performed their project on the International Space Station, as the students mimicked the experiment on Earth.
Once Arnold returned to Earth, the students were able to determine that the kudzu seeds sent into space had germinated more than the seeds in the control experiment on Earth, proving that kudzu could even grow in space.
“We were so excited when we found out that our seeds had germinated in space,” said Stewart.
“So we proved that kudzu can grow in space,” said Kirkpatrick.
Each of the students expressed that they were grateful for the opportunity to participate in SSEP and remarked on what an incredible experience it was.
Another WMS student, Selena Winston, who was part of one of the top three finalist groups whose project was not chosen to go into space, addressed the audience about the opportunity she and other students had in entering the contest.
“I never thought I would do anything like this in my lifetime,” said Winston.
Winston told the audience that although she was not part of the group whose project was chosen, she was able to visit the launchpad in Florida, tour the space center there and speak with an astronaut.
She described the experience as the most inspiring one she has had yet and said that it had encouraged her to pursue a career in that field.