Spring 2012 TRINITY Magazine, Impact
Sara Timmer ’86
Major: Biology and chemistry
In April, Sara Timmer ’86 began conducting a unique experiment. She and her students at Highland Christian School, Highland, Indiana, are germinating soybean seeds in the classroom while other soybeans are germinating way outside of the classroom…namely outer space.
Timmer graduated from Trinity with a degree in biology and chemistry and returned to the College to earn her teaching certification in 2009 through the Adult Studies Accelerated Program.
With her guidance, Timmer’s students wrote a proposal for the experiment to be conducted in space on the International Space Station (ISS). For the proposal, she and students in Highland’s junior high science club sought help from Dr. Lou Sytsma ’65, professor of chemistry at Trinity. Sytsma helped to answer questions they had while they wrote their paper titled, “The Effect of Microgravity on the Quality and Nutritional Value of the Seed Sprout of a Germinated 92M72 Genetically-Modified Soybean.”
The microgravity experiment was selected as part of Mission 1 to the ISS, the third flight opportunity provided by America’s Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP).
The seeds will be flying in a microgravity research mini-laboratory in low Earth orbit. The aim is to see if food can be grown in other environments. When the seeds return to Earth from space, the students will come to Trinity and work with Dr. Bob Boomsma, professor of biology at Trinity, to compare the seed from space and the one germinating on earth.
The SSEP (http://ssep.ncesse.org) is undertaken by the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE; http://ncesse.org) in partnership with NanoRacks, LLC. This on-orbit educational research opportunity is enabled through NanoRacks, LLC, which is working in partnership with NASA under a Space Act Agreement as part of the utilization of the International Space Station as a National Laboratory.