For many researchers, it takes a long period of trial and error before their study is published in a peer-reviewed journal. A group of students from Toronto managed to publish the results of their school project. The ambitious project consisted of sending a tube of worms into orbit on order to observe how low gravity affects muscular degeneration. When the project was proposed, the students were in grades 8 through twelve. They have now become published scientists although 2 out of the four ladies have not even graduated high school.
Annabel Gravely, the founder of the group, has declared that she would never have dreamed that her experiment would have such a large impact, since many obstacles were encountered along the way. It all started four years ago. A completion was announced by the University of Toronto Schools, the aim being to send the selected student project to the international space station. Gravely wished that her experiment will make a difference so she picked a subject that was close to her heart: the neural disease that caused the dead of her grandfather a few years before.
Lou Gehrig’s disease, also known as ALS is a debilitating neurological disease which attacks the cells that are responsible for muscular control. A logical connection between the disease and the muscle problems developed by astronauts who spent long periods of time in space was the first discovery in the project. She theorized that if an ALS-connected enzyme was found in a higher ratio in worms exposed to microgravity, it could help prospective researchers to better identify the causes of muscle atrophy, which are directly linked to many degenerative diseases.
Along with a class colleague and with the help of two senior students, she managed to complete the project. It was successful, and the results were published in the Gravitational Space Research journal.