How do we build a future workforce in science and technology? By developing a love of science in students by engaging them and showing them that science is both fun and practical. This is exactly the goal of PerkinElmer, a Massachusetts-based international science and technology company with offices in Shelton and Branford.

On April 29, the final flight of Space Shuttle Endeavour will include a science experiment developed by five seniors from Shelton High School. Endeavour will travel to the International Space Station carrying experiments from professional scientists and 16 schools from across the country. The Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP), created by Dr. Jeff Goldstein of the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education, also hopes to develop tomorrow’s scientists and engineers by giving students in grades 5-12 the ability to design and propose real experiments to fly in low Earth orbit, first aboard the final flights of the Space Shuttle, and then on the station.

Shelton students Leann Misencik, Kayla Russo, Jason Shnipes, Omar Sobh and James Szabo submitted their proposal to the SSEP program under the guidance of Mary Clark, head of school’s science department. The proposal underwent a rigorous professional two-step review process before being chosen for inclusion. The purpose of the experiment is to observe the effect of microgravity on the development and integrity of a prokaryotic cell wall.

In order to complete their experiment and travel to Florida to watch the launch, the students needed both technical assistance and financial support. That is where PerkinElmer stepped in as a partner. PerkinElmer previously had worked with students at Shelton Middle School on a clean-water project for World Water Monitoring Day. Scientists from PerkinElmer were able to show students the real-life applications of science.

PerkinElmer dedicated the funds necessary to complete the experiment and to travel to the Kennedy Space Center to watch the launch. The students worked at the PerkinElmer laboratories along side scientists to prepare the experiment for shipment to the Kennedy Space Center.

Founded in 1937 in Norwalk, PerkinElmer has a history of being an active corporate citizen and is committed to making a difference. According to Jonathan Lese, senior manager for corporate social responsibility, PerkinElmer encourages its employees worldwide to be engaged to make their communities better.

“Helping and mentoring Shelton High School students prepare experiments for the Space Shuttle mission is one of the many ways PerkinElmer engages employees in local community activities that make a difference,” Lese said. “We hope to show students of all ages that science and engineering are important career skills that can have a positive impact on society.”