To say that 11-year old Michal Bodzianowski knows very little about beer would be an understatement. He has of course never tasted the drink and till his dad explained, had no clue what a microbrewery was. But that didn't deter the sixth-grader from suggesting that astronauts brew the drink in Space as his entry for the Spring 2013 Student Spaceflight Experiments Challenge organized by the National Science Earth And Space Education whose main goal is to inspire the next generation of America's scientists and engineers.
What is even more surprising is that his entry entitled 'What Are the Effects of Creation of Beer in Microgravity and Is It Possible?', is one of the eleven experiments that is soon heading to the International Space Station for real testing. However, if you think that the young boy came up with the idea because he wants the astronauts to have some fun after a hard day's work, think again. Michal believes that perfecting the process of brewing beer in Space is important because it may some day help save the lives of future Space colonists.
And while that may sound far-fetched, Michal's reasoning is based on the medical qualities of alcohol, which is known to kill all bacteria. According to the young boy, if there was ever an accident in Space that resulted in contaminating the water supply, the residents could save themselves with this alternate source of hydration if, they knew how to brew it.
Michal, a science buff says that he discovered the medical qualities of beer in a book called 'Gruesome Facts', which stated that the reason it was popular in the Middle Ages was because the water was so polluted, that it was fed to prisoners as punishment for their crimes.
So when his teacher, Sharon Combs, at Colorado's STEM School and Academy began brainstorming with the class for ideas to enter the annual Space Science competition in Spring, the then sixth grader suggested it as a way to help future space residents. Fortunately for him, Ms. Combs thought it was a brilliant idea and instructed him to proceed on investigating it further, with a team of eight graders. Meanwhile she, along with the rest of the school, began the fundraising effort for the $21,500 USD it would take, to send the experiment to Space in case the idea was selected.
Sure enough on Monday, October 8th, the National Center for Earth And Space Science Education announced that the Michal's beer brewing experiment was amongst the 11 experiment proposals selected out of the 744 submitted by 3,900 students from across the country, for their next flight to the International Space Station (ISS), which is scheduled to depart in a few months.
In order to prepare his experiment, Michal who is now in seventh-grade, will receive a real research mini-laboratory inside which, he will place a six-inch long silicone tube - clamped to the side will be hops, malted barley, yeast and water. When the tube arrives at the ISS, the astronauts will remove the clamps and combine all the ingredients according to the instructions sent in by Michal. Meanwhile, the young boy and his team will conduct the same experiment on earth and compare the results with the astronauts. If the experiment is successful, future Space travelers may one day thank the 11-year old for his vision.
Also heading to Space are experiments on other interesting topics ranging from the effects of microgravity on bacteria, to how mobile animals like salamanders develop and even, a test to see how the lack of gravity impacts the oxidization of metal in salt water.