Twelve Pop Warner Cheerleading teams participated in Project MERCCURI - a citizen science research led by Science Cheerleader, and seven of those teams will have their microbes fly in space this weekend.
The seven teams (listed below) will have their microbes "race" (growth rate analysis) against microbes from the New England Patriots, San Francisco 49ers, Philadelphia 76ers, Philadelphia Phillies, Sacramento Kings, Orlando Magic, Tennessee Titans, Washington Redskins, Miami Dolphins, Arizona Cardinals and more!
Led by the Science Cheerleaders (current and former NFL and NBA cheerleaders pursuing science and technology careers), thousands of people across the United States participated in the project.
Several Pop Warner cheer teams swabbed practice fields, shoes and cell phones for microbes. Other people collected microbial samples at NFL, NBA, and MLB stadiums; from schools; from landmarks like the Liberty Bell, Sue the T-Rex, the statue of Ben Franklin in Philadelphia, and the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum; and during events including Yuri’s Nights, a series of gatherings across the country to commemorate the first human in space.
Below is a list of the participating teams:
* indicates teams selected to have their microbes fly in space.
- Coastal Bengals (NC)*
- Coronado (San Diego, CA)*
- Lauderhill Broncos (FL)*
- Lake Brantley Patriots (FL)*
- Apopka Blue Darters (FL)*
- Chittenango Bears * (NY)*
- Port Reading Saints (NJ)*
- The other participating teams are: Chicopee Braves (Central Mass.), Fox Valley Gators (Chicago area), Four Points Vipers (Austin, TX), Gladiators (Castro Valley, CA) & Chesapeake Wolverines (VA).
The microbes they gathered were examined by the “microbiology team” in the laboratory of Dr. Jonathan Eisen at the University of California at Davis.
The team selected 48 microbes, which, with approval from NASA, are to ride the SpaceX Falcon 9 to the Space Station for further research. The rocket is scheduled to launch from the Kennedy Space Center on March 16, 2014.
The public will be able to follow Project MERCCURI as it continues over the next several months via the web site www.SpaceMicrobes.org.
The site will include updates from the research on the Space Station including results of the “microbial playoffs” growth competition. The site also features free interactive visualization tools, lesson plans for teachers, and even trading cards that include photos and the details of each microbe selected for the project, as well as their importance.