Academy at Nola Dunn’s “Kidney Stone Conundrum” Team Named SSEP Mission 9 Finalist

Experiment Moves to Review Phase, Group to Present to Professional Scientists in Washington, D.C.

BURLESON, Texas (Feb. 8, 2016) – Burleson Independent School District’s (BISD) Academy at Nola Dunn’s “Kidney Stone Conundrum” team is named finalist in the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) Mission 9. The team advanced to the SSEP Step 2 National Review, where the experiment was selected for flight. The experiment will now undergo NASA’s Toxicology Flight Safety Review before entering the SSEP Flight Operations Phase to prepare for a Summer 2016 launch.

Students Hannah Greenhill, Cooper Williams, and Caleb Quisenberry, make up the fifth grade team whose experiment is testing, “Does microgravity have an effect on the disintegration of kidney stones (nephrolithiasis) in chanca piedra (phyllanthus niruri)?”

The student team was inspired to focus on health issues astronauts face in a microgravity environment. Much research has been done on the heart, so students focused on the kidneys because of how often  astronauts suffer from kidney stones, due to how microgravity affects circulation. Students chose to test a natural remedy that can be included in their diet, since many medicines lose potency in microgravity.

“We were truly impressed with the depth of research conducted by these students to determine how their experiment can provide research to help improve the experience of astronauts in space,”  said Dr. Leslie Bender Jutzi, BISD Chief Academic Innovation Officer. “These students are remarkable and are ready to present their experiment to student researchers and professional scientists at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., this summer.”

BISD students submitted 231 experiment proposals for SSEP Mission 9. For more information on Space Night or SSEP Mission 9, visit

SSEP is a U.S. National STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education program that immerses students in every facet of authentic scientific research of their own design, using a highly captivating space flight opportunity on the International Space Station (ISS). SSEP Mission 9 to ISS provides a real research mini-laboratory capable of supporting a single microgravity experiment, and all launch services to fly the mini-lab to ISS in Summer 2016, and return it safely to Earth for harvesting and analysis. Mirroring how professional research is done, student teams across the community submit research proposals, and go through a formal proposal review process to select the flight experiment.

The Student Spaceflight Experiments Program ( is undertaken by the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE; 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.

For information on the Mission 9 to ISS flight opportunity, and to get a detailed understanding of the program, read the SSEP Home Page:



Burleson Independent School District serves more than 11,000 students at 16 campuses, and is recognized as a premier school district in the Dallas/Fort Worth-area. The mission of Burleson Independent School District is to engage and support every learner with a rigorous curriculum so that they graduate college and career ready.


Mikala Hill or Katelyn Tyler

Burleson ISD Communications