As Baltimoreans, we all can agree that Domino Sugar is out-of-this-world good, and as of today, it literally will be. Three pounds of the sweet, Baltimore-refined crystals, along with three pounds of the California-based C&H Sugar, will be heading to the International Space Station (ISS) as part of an experiment conducted by NASA.
The SpaceX Dragon Falcon 9 spacecraft launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida at 11:46 a.m. today carrying 4,800 pounds of research—sugar included—crew supplies, and hardware. Once the sugar reaches the ISS, astronauts will use it to grow crystals in zero gravity. This experiment will test the differences between growing sugar on Earth and in space and allows for students to get in on the research.
“We support educational STEM programs at schools around the country,” Brian O’Malley, CEO of Domino Foods, said in a statement. “We were thrilled when we were approached with this inventive program that uses our sugar products in a unique way to inspire young students to engage with and learn about science.”
The Crystal Growth Experiment, as the project is known, was designed by space-related STEM organizations DreamUp, NanoRacks, and Xtronaut. It will teach students about the process of nucleation and crystallization in which sugar molecules in a saturated solution bond together and grow into the hard candy treat.
Domino Sugar and C&H Sugar, both part of ASR Group sugar refiners, each donated $25,000 to the Kickstarter campaign to jumpstart the effort. Due to the generous donation, both sugar makers will be the test subjects in the research for both the NASA astronauts and local students.
Down the street from Domino, students at Francis Scott Key Elementary/Middle School will be participating in the experiment by using “Crystals in Space” kits that were developed specifically for this experiment.
“When I told my pre-k students that I got an exciting email from Domino Sugar, their eyes lit up,” says Francis Scott Key teacher Ashley Demski. “[They said] ‘Ms. Demski, I pass Domino on the way to school. I can see the sign from my house!’ We do so many activities that come from kits based out of other parts of the country, so this is going to be especially meaningful for our Baltimore kids.”
She adds that she is anxious to see the results and introduce the kits to other students in the school.
“If my 4-year-olds were that excited, I can only imagine how our older students are going to respond,” she says. “STEM is right in our backyard.”