How a 2nd-Grade Class Sent a Science Experiment to Space

Back in 2015, students in Maggie Samudio’s second-grade class at Cumberland Elementary School in West Lafayette, Ind., were contemplating an offbeat science question: If a firefly went to space, would it still be able to light up as it floated in zero gravity?

Ms. Samudio said she would ask a friend of hers, Steven Collicott, an aerospace professor at nearby Purdue University, for the answer.

“He teaches a class on zero gravity, and he would be the perfect person to answer the question,” Ms. Samudio recalled in an email.

A day later, Dr. Collicott replied, and Ms. Samudio was surprised by his answer: Instead of guessing, why not actually build the experiment and send it to space?

Blue Origin, the rocket company started by Jeffrey P. Bezos, chief executive of Amazon, was planning to offer the ability for schools to fly small experiments on its New Shepard suborbital spacecraft for

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