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Mission Accomplished: STARward STEM's Swiss Chard Project Returns from Space

February 2, 2024


The 2023 STARward STEM Expo Design Challenge winners, Gary Dixon, Brielle McCoy, and Princeton Scott, recently unpacked their Swiss Chard Project at W.H. Owen Elementary. The project, which was sent aboard SpaceX-29 to the International Space Station, included post-flight experiments aimed at gaining insights into space travel. North Carolina State University's plant and microbial biologist, Aurora Toennisson, led the Swiss Chard Project.


Reflecting on the anticipation of seeing the experiment's results, fifth graders McCoy and Dixon expressed their excitement. "I'm thrilled to meet the scientist who has been assisting us with our experiment," shared McCoy. Scott echoed McCoy's statement. Dixon added, "I'm excited that we can test the differences between the Swiss Chard we were growing in space compared to the ones in our own classroom."


Former W.H. Owen Principal, Dr. Latreicia Allen, returned to witness the students unpacking their experiment, expressing her admiration for their diligent work. "I am incredibly impressed with the outcome of their work. These scholars worked very diligently last year to send their project to outer space," said Allen.


Current Principal Rachel Andress shared her pride in the students' achievement. "These scholars can actually grow up and say that they conducted an experiment in space. I'm very proud of them," said Andress. Anayansi Young, the fifth-grade Spanish Immersion teacher who led the team, expressed amazement at seeing the students bring their project back from space. She also revealed that the students are actively working on another experiment for this year's STARward STEM Expo.


Student scientists sit a table with their projects  Students scientist in library at a table with adult scientist  Student scientists interact with adult scientist at table with their project