Experiments designed by space-minded elementary and junior high school students are about to get the ultimate field trip: A flight to the International Space Station, NASA has announced.

NASA has selected nine student-designed space experiments from a field of 132 projects submitted to its new program called "Kids in Micro g!" which challenges students to design experiments uniquely suited to the microgravity environment of the International Space Station.

This is the first year of the student outreach project in which astronauts on the space station perform the experiments designed by kids. The experiments are expected to be launched to the station this summer.

"What a wonderful experience for these kids to have their experiments carried out in space and by astronauts," said Mark Severance, International Space Station National Laboratory Education projects manager at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. "This gives students the chance to see what happens differently, other than in the classroom, when their experiment is performed in an environment that is not on Earth."

Yet, the students all used an apparatus containing tools commonly found in classrooms and science experiments. Contest entrants were instructed to design demonstrations that take no longer than 30 minutes to set up, run, and take down.

The experiments will study the effects of weightlessness of liquids, humans, and other materials, and what the results in the environment show about the laws of physics.  

Microgravity, or weightlessness, is expected to cause the materials and objects to respond in an observably different way than on Earth.

A team of representatives at NASA's 10 field centers selected by the student experiments after evaluating each of the 132 entries sent in from schools across the United States. The winning schools included:

  • Brownell Middle, Grosse Point Farms, Mich. ? (National Winner and NASA Glenn Research Center Regional Winner)
  • Vaughan Elementary, Powder Springs, Ga. ? (National Runner-up and NASA Kennedy Space Center Regional Winner)
  • Hamlin School, San Francisco, Calif. ? (NASA Ames Research Center Regional Winner)
  • East Hartford-Glastonbury Magnet, East Hartford, Conn., and Carl Sandburg Middle, Old Bridge, N.J. ? a tie ? (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Regional Winners)
  • Windy Ridge Elementary, Orlando, Fla. ? (NASA Kennedy Space Center Regional Winner)
  • Virginia Academy, Ashburn, Va. ? (NASA Langley Research Center Regional Winner)

Space station astronauts will conduct the experiments according to design, and using the same tool kit provided to students, NASA officials said. Next summer's program will accept entries this fall, they added.