Coconauts by Shakivia, Erika and Sarah
We live in Florida. We love our state's coconut trees and we'd someday like to be astronauts. That's why we call ourselves "coconauts!" One day, we were talking about the kinds of foods space explorers eat. We wondered if our native state's coconuts would make a good space food. Our question: How is a coconut affected by outer space?
What did we do?
With our teacher's help, we developed an experiment that we sent to NASA's Small Shuttle Payloads Project. Our project was chosen to participate in a shuttle mission. We gathered some coconuts and separated them into five parts: the outer husk, the inner husk, the shell, the meat and the milk. NASA gave us some vials. We put small samples of each of the five coconut parts into individual vials, measured how heavy each one was and wrote down what they looked like. Then, we loaded them up and sent them off to the Kennedy Space Center to go on the shuttle mission. Once the shuttle returned to Earth, we got the vials back, weighed them again and looked for changes in their appearance.
What did we find out?
The coconut vials were exposed to microgravity, extreme cold and radiation during their ten days in space. Most of the vials did not change much in weight and only a few changed in appearance. Some of the dry coconut pieces were charged with static electricity because they clung to the inside of the vial. Some of the coconut milk had turned color. One thing we realized was that we didn't keep any vials with us on Earth to see if the coconut changes on Earth the same way it did in space.
- With your teacher, submit a proposal to NASA's Small Shuttle Payloads Project. Maybe your project will be chosen, too!
- How could you grow food on the moon? Design a little space terrarium and see if you can grow plants without adding water and fertilizer.
- Use this space science investigation as a science fair project idea for your elementary or middle school science fair! Then tell us about it!